Saturday | 13 Sep 2014

Ogier charges back to lead in Australia

Sébastien Ogier blasted back into the lead of Coates Hire Rally Australia after a stunning drive through the second pass of the marathon Nambucca stage to outpace Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala by 13.4sec.

Latvala’s 4.1sec lead was wiped out as tyre selection proved the difference between the duo in the 48.92km test.

Forecasts suggested rain was likely, prompting Latvala to opt for two hard compound Michelin tyres on the front of his Polo R and two softs on the rear. But the roads were dry and Ogier’s option of three hard and one soft tyre proved more matched to the conditions.

“It wasn’t a perfect choice but better than Jari-Matti, I guess,” said Ogier. “The best would have been four hard tyres. We had a clean stage and avoided the small mistakes we made earlier.”

Latvala admitted his mistake. “According to our information there was an expectation of rain showers. But they never came and the road was 100 per cent dry so the rears overheated. Towards the end it was better but at the beginning the road was too dry for the soft compound,” he said.

Mads Østberg - climbed ahead of Hayden Paddon into sixth

Kris Meeke, with four hard tyres on his Citroen DS3, was second fastest, 0.6sec ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen. He closed to within 0.2sec of the Norwegian in their fight for third.

Fifth fastest Mads Østberg was 10.3sec quicker than Hayden Paddon’s Hyundai i20 to relegate the Kiwi driver in their battle for sixth.

M-Sport trio Mikko Hirvonen, Elfyn Evans and Robert Kubica all choose five soft tyres in expectation of rain, a decision they regretted. “We will lose quite a lot of time with these tyres,” said a despondent Hirvonen. Evans dropped behind Thierry Neuville into 10th.

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