Thursday | 18 Sep 2014

Rally Australia driver report: Part 2

The second part of our analysis of the major players from last weekend’s Coates Hire Rally Australia.

Jari-Matti Latvala (Volkswagen Polo R)
After throwing away his opportunity to make up ground on Sebastien Ogier in Germany, Latvala’s fading title hopes required something pretty special in Australia. Sadly for him, a generally great rally wasn’t enough. There was no sign that Germany had dented Latvala’s confidence, but a soft brake pedal ruined his chance to pull a crucial early lead on Friday when Ogier was disadvantaged as first on the road. Never under threat in second place, a less than perfect tyre choice on Sunday prevented a last ditch push for the win.

Kris Meeke (Citroen DS3)
Australia was another excellent rally for the Briton who was consistently Ogier and Latvala’s closest rival. In terms of raw speed Meeke reckons this was his best WRC performance to date. He looked to be heading for third place until a penalty for cutting a corner on Stage 10 dropped him out of the fight. Meeke however remained philosophical. Proving his worth to Citroen boss Yves Matton before the squad’s 2015 driver line-up is chosen next month was the top priority, and he more than achieved that.

Elfyn Evans (Ford Fiesta RS)
Australia was another new challenge for the Welshman, which meant his objectives were more about nailing his pace notes and learning how best to tackle the stages than taking on his rivals. He did his job well, keeping out of trouble to complete the whole route, with a holed, but repairable, radiator his most serious issue. Gambled and lost by taking a soft compound tyre on Saturday’s stages, but at this point no experience is wasted and this year’s rally will help him in 2015 when he’ll be after more than eighth.

Andreas Mikkelsen (Volkswagen Polo R)
The Norwegian delivered another strong and reliable performance to earn Volkswagen its 36th podium and its first 1-2-3. Never out to challenge the pace of his team-mates in front, Mikkelsen spent much of the event locked in a close battle for third with Meeke that went back and forth throughout Saturday’s stages. After Meeke’s penalty ended the fight, Mikkelsen spent Sunday stuck in no man’s land but judged his pace well to bring his Polo R safely over the finish ramp.

Robert Kubica (Ford Fiesta RS)
It was a relatively trouble-free rally for the Pole, who was tackling the Australian stages for the first time. He initially struggled to get to grips with the rhythm of the stages, but was increasing in confidence when, ironically, an FIA safety warning test distracted him enough to put his car off the stage and damage its suspension. Kubica, quite rightly, took consolation from the fact that the accident wasn’t down to his driving. Ended the rally saying he felt far happier about driving on gravel – something that should help him on Rally GB later this year.

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