Fri 18:25 - Goodnight!
With the on-stage action complete for today, we'll call it a day on the Live Text. But fear not, we'll back bright and early for SS9 - Argents Hill Reverse at 7.08am local time. Until then, keep your eyes peeled on wrc.com for the latest news and reports from New South Wales.
Fri 18:20 - WRC 2 standings after SS8
1. A. Heller 59m 06.3sec 2. P. Heller +20.6sec 3. Kremer +59.4sec 4. Linari +8m 11.7sec
Fri 18:19 - WRC standings after SS8
1. Østberg 53m 37.4sec 2. Breen +6.8sec 3. Latvala +8.7sec 4. Paddon +12.5sec 5. Tänak +16.9sec 6. Lappi +28.3sec Ogier is 7th and Neuville is 10th
Fri 18:15 - SS8: P. Heller
Pedro ends things off for today now as he powers his Fiesta R5 round the twists and turns of the Destination NSW super special stage. He goes fastest through the stage by 0.3sec, but still trails brother Alberto by 20.6sec.
Fri 18:13 - SS8: Serderidis
Decent day for Jourdan overall, he's had a clean run through all the stages and he ends this one with a time that's just 4.5sec off the fastest.
Fri 18:10 - SS8: Østberg
Mads Østberg ends the day with the rally lead, and a Citroën 1-2 as he goes 1.7sec slower on the stage. His gap to Breen is 6.8sec.
Fri 18:09 - SS8: Suninen
Teem Suninen completes Friday now with a time 2.6sec off the pace.
Fri 18:05 - SS7: P. Heller
Pedro Heller is the fourth of the WRC 2 cars to tackle this penultimate test and he is second-fastest on the stage, just 0.4sec behind Armin Kremer.
Fri 18:03 - SS7: Serderidis
Jourdan Serderidis in the fourth M-Sport Ford Fiesta puts a time on the board for this test and it is just 5.5sec off the leading time.
Fri 18:00 - SS7: Østberg
The rally leader is the next through the gates on this skill showcase and he is fifth quickest on the stage - 2.0sec down.
Fri 17:59 - SS7: Suninen
Our final group of cars to tackle the stage begins with Teemu Suninen. The third M-Sport Ford driver completes the stage 3.1sec down which means he slips behind team-mate Evans in the overall standings.
Fri 17:56 - SS8: Paddon
Paddon completes his day now and he is 2.5sec slower than the fastest time, and he is now 3.8sec behind Latvala in the overall classification.
Fri 17:54 - SS8: Breen
Craig Breen caps his superb opening day with a respectable time on this test, he's just 0.9sec down on the fastest time and that means his lead over Latvala in the overall standings is 1.9sec.
Fri 17:52 - SS8: Evans
Elfyn Evans rattles in another time on this stage and he is 1.6sec down.
Fri 17:49 - SS8: Latvala
Latvala is onto his second crack at this super special and he completes it 2.1sec slower than Tänak.
Fri 17:46 - SS7: Paddon
Hayden Paddon slides his way round the obstacles in his Hyundai i20 and he is seventh fastest through the test, 4.0sec off the leading times.
Fri 17:44 - SS7: Breen
Craig Breen is through Friday's penultimate stage and he has moved ahead of Latvala! He's 2.4sec ahead of the Finn on the stage and he moves ahead of him overall by 0.7sec.
Fri 17:41 - SS7: Evans
Elfyn Evans is the next to tackle the beachfront super special and he is fourth fastest - 1.9sec off his team-mate Ogier.
Fri 17:39 - SS7: Latvala
Back onto SS7 and Jari-Matti Latvala is the next to complete the stage. He clips the bale at the roundabout but he gets through to the end 4.1sec down.
Fri 17:35 - SS8: Lappi
Esapekka Lappi rounds off this initial group of four tackling the two stages and he is 1.3sec slower than his team-mate.
Fri 17:32 - SS8: Tänak
The Toyota driver drags his battered Yaris through the stage and to the end of the first day of competition here in Coffs Harbour and he goes fastest by 0.2sec!
Fri 17:31 - SS8: Neuville
Neuville avoids mishap on this run of the stage and he is 0.6sec down on Ogier.
Fri 17:29 - SS8: Ogier
Right, Ogier has now completed his second go on what is officially stage eight. He rounds his day off with a 1m 23.2sec.
Fri 17:25 - SS7: Lappi
Esapekka is the next through and he has dropped 1.7sec to Ogier.
Fri 17:22 - SS7: Tänak
Tänak completes the first pass of the stage and he is 0.7sec down on Ogier.
Fri 17:21 - SS7: Neuville
Oh dear Thierry! The asphalt with sand on top has made the surface pretty slippery and he slides into a sand bank at a 90 degree left. He keeps going though and reaches the end 2.0sec slower than Ogier.
Fri 17:17 - SS7: Ogier
Righto, we're back underway with the super special with Sébastien Ogier starting SS7 now!
Fri 16:54 - Short pause
With that completed, we'll take a short break as the WRC competitors prepare themselves for the super special
Fri 16:53 - SS8: Linari
Linari completes his day off now by going 4.7sec slower than Kremer on his second run through this evening's super special stage
Fri 16:51 - SS8: A. Heller
Alberto has his eye in on this test now, but he still can't beat Kremer - the Chilean drops 0.3sec as he reaches the flying finish.
Fri 16:48 - SS8: Kremer
They get their two passes of the stage done quickly this evening as Kremer completes his second run of the stage in quick fashion. This time through he sets a 1m 27.6sec
Fri 16:43 - SS7: Linari
With Pedro going later, after the 11 WRC crews, Linari rounds off proceedings on SS7 for WRC 2 at the moment - his stage time 5.3sec slower than Kremer.
Fri 16:41 - SS7: A. Heller
Alberto Heller is next onto this quick-fire test and he can't improve on Armin's time, he is 0.7sec slower which means he won't have a clean sweep of stage wins today.
Fri 16:39 - SS7: Kremer
Armin Kremer gets things rolling and he clocks a 1m 29.0sec
Fri 16:36 - Stage info: SS7 / SS8
Destination NSW SSS18 1/2, 1.27km Coffs Harbour’s fan favourite street stage in the jetty area is concentrated in a small area that provides stunning views of Boambee Beach. The action on the mainly asphalt stage will be spectacular with roundabout turns, a banked corner and two jumps. Minor changes to the 2017 format see the beach side loop driven in the opposite direction.
Fri 16:33 - Five minutes to go
Five minutes until the first run of Destination NSW SSS18 gets underway. We'll be starting with two passes of the stage for the WRC 2 runners before the WRC crews tackle the stage a little later.
Fri 15:07 - Short break
With the WRC and WRC 2 crews safely through and heading off to regroup, we'll take a short break and return for the start of SS7 - Destination NSW SSS18 1 - at 16.37 local time.
Fri 15:05 - WRC 2 standings after SS6
1. A. Heller 56m 08.7sec 2. P. Heller +21.5sec 3. Kremer +1m 00.4sec 4. Linari +8m 02.7sec
Fri 15:05 - SS6: Linari
Once again, Gianluca Linari rounds things up for the WRC 2 class as he crosses the line 1m 55.7sec slower than Alberto Heller.
Fri 15:02 - SS6: A. Heller
Blimey that was a tight finish for Alberto. He was faster and slower than his brother through the splits but just manages to cross the line to claim victory on the stage by just 0.4sec.
Fri 14:59 - SS6: Kremer
The German is the next through to the end of the stage and he is 10.5sec off the Chilean's benchmark time.
Fri 14:58 - SS6: P. Heller
Moving onto the WRC 2 class, Pedro Heller has put a time on the board of 14m 06.8sec
Fri 14:53 - WRC standings after SS6
1. Østberg 50m 47.3sec 2. Latvala +6.2sec 3. Breen +7.5sec 4. Paddon +9.7sec 5. Tänak +19.9sec 6. Lappi +29.0sec Ogier is 7th and Neuville is 10th after a stall on the stage
Fri 14:51 - SS6: Østberg
Mads was quicker than his Citroën team-mate in the first half of the stage but he's lost some time as he powers towards the stop control. His time on the board is 1.0sec down on Breen, but he gains a few tenths on Latvala - his lead is 6.2sec. "It's been really good. It was more challenging than I thought with the hard tyres this afternoon. I had the same car on all the stages so I could push well. It was absolutely in the plan to be leading!"
Fri 14:49 - SS6: Suninen
Clean run through the stage for Teemu as he continues to quickly learn the technique to driving the New South Wales gravel. He slows down to help M-Sport Ford team-mate Ogier gain another position. That slots him in seventh overall - 3.5sec behind Ogier. "I'm part of the game and just need to follow the rules. The pace has been good and it was easier to drive on the second loop."
Fri 14:45 - SS6: Paddon
The Kiwi can't match the Irishman on this test, he's 2.5sec down as he safely completes the sixth stage of this Friday. He's dropped behind Breen by 2.2sec overall. "Quite lucky really, we damaged a wheel on the last stage and the spare was a badly worn soft. Happy to minimise the time loss."
Fri 14:43 - SS6: Breen
Breen's quickest through the stage, he's having a good Friday in his C3 - he's just 1.3sec behind Latvala! He's got a big smile on his face and his quickest time leads to some good-natured ribbing of WRC+ All Live reporter Colin Clark at the end of the stage: "Doesn't that sound so much nicer and easier to say! Tried to go like the clappers on that one. "I'm sorry but I've heard so many nice things about you so when you're down and bad it doesn't suit you!"
Fri 14:41 - SS6: Evans
Elfyn Evans completes the stage now and he's lost quite a bit of time towards the end as he's told to slow down by Dan Barritt to allow Ogier to get past in the overall standings. He's 25.6sec slower on the stage and he's now 3.7sec behind the Frenchman overall. "Yeah, that's it really. We're all competitors at the end of the day wanting to compete - especially when you haven't got a seat next year - but we have to respect the decision of the team, at the end of the day we're employed to do a job and that's how it is."
Fri 14:37 - SS6: Latvala
Another quick time from a Toyota is put on the board and this one has JML's name next to it. He's gone 2.0sec quicker through this test. He's having a good old look at the timing board "We thought Neuville was 6.9sec quicker but then realised he was a minute slower. The stage wasn't too bad, towards the end there were some slippy places."
Fri 14:33 - SS6: Lappi
Lappi is really motoring through this test, he was green through all the splits and he eventually completes Sherwood 9.7sec to the good. "I need to save the car! My front-end is quite damaged. That was a heavy water splash it seems. It is nice that the engine managed to keep running after these 15 or 20 seconds misfiring."
Fri 14:31 - SS6: Tänak
Tänak reaches the end of the stage with a few half-spins in his Yaris but he still manages to complete 1.2sec up on Ogier. "Some moments we had because of the missing aero, some places you turn and nothing happens - not a great feeling. I need to try, but the mistakes I've done so far - I don't like these ones."
Fri 14:28 - SS6: Neuville
At 19.64km he's lost 21.0sec and that's increased to 37.2sec at the final timing point - 25.34km into the stage. He eventually completes the stage and he's lost 40.2sec, does he have a deeper issue in that i20? He's got extensive rear-left wheel damage. "On the landing of a jump the tyre came off the rim."
Fri 14:24 - SS6: Ogier
Ogier completes the stage now, his day is almost done - save for the two runs of the Destination NSW SSS18 super special stages. How is he feeling? "I push like crazy, this was worse than this morning - I was on the limit, including on the jump." He's told about Neuville's time loss "That is good news."
Fri 14:22 - SS6: Lappi
That misfire from SS5 certainly isn't lingering for Esapekka, at the first split he's 0.7sec up on Neuville.
Fri 14:22 - SS6: Neuville
He's hit the chicane! Thierry tries to brake for the chicane but he locks up. Thankfully the hay bales don't do too much damage to the i20 but he'll have lost a fair chunk of time.
Fri 14:20 - SS6: Neuville
Thierry's lost a bit of time at the third split - 14.72km in - as he goes 1.9sec slower than Ogier.
Fri 14:19 - SS6: Tänak
The lack of a front bumper is slowing Ott down, but not by much - at the first split he is 0.4sec down on Ogier.
Fri 14:16 - SS6: Neuville
Neuville breaks the beam at the first of five splits on this test and he is 0.8sec up on Ogier.
Fri 14:11 - SS6: Live
Sébastien Ogier gets the day's longest stage - Sherwood - underway for the second time.
Fri 14:02 - WRC 2 standings after SS5
1. A. Heller 42m 02.3sec 2. P. Heller +21.1sec 3. Kremer +49.5sec 4. Linari +6m 07.0sec
Fri 14:01 - SS5: Linari
Four WRC 2 crews out, four WRC 2 crews back in as Gianluca Linari completes Coldwater 2 in his Impreza. He's 1m 09.2sec behind the leaders.
Fri 13:58 - SS5: Kremer
The Fabia R5 driver is the next through to the end and he is 8.2sec down. Meanwhile, Alberto Heller also logs a time and he goes fastest by 4.3sec - that's a fifth stage win in a row for the Chilean.
Fri 13:54 - SS5: P. Heller
Pedro Heller switches proceedings to the WRC 2 class abdnd he sets an 8m 36.6sec.
Fri 13:51 - SS5: Serderidis
Another stage ticked off for the former WRC Trophy champion and he is 1m 20.1sec down.
Fri 13:50 - WRC standings after SS5
1. Østberg 38m 10.7sec 2. Latvala +5.9sec 3. Tänak +7.9sec 4. Paddon +8.2sec 5. Breen +8.5sec 6. Suninen +14.0sec Neuville is 7th and Ogier is 10th
Fri 13:48 - SS5: Østberg
Mads was 0.4sec up on the opening split but he's lost a bit of time as he powers towards the finish of this test. He reaches stop control just 0.7sec down - his lead is 5.9sec over Latvala. "Everything fine, it didn't feel completely perfect like this morning but the time is good so we must be doing something right."
Fri 13:45 - SS5: Suninen
Suninen was quicker than Neuville on the first split by 0.2sec. He's lost half a second on the 10.28km split though but he claws back the time on the end - just 0.1sec off the fastest time. Is he happy with that? "It was a clean stage and a good drive. Let's say we are following the plan." Definitely happy with his performance, and who can blame him?
Fri 13:43 - SS5: Paddon
Paddon is just 0.7sec off the fastest time on this one, he's lost 0.1sec to Breen but stays ahead of the Irishman by just 0.3sec. "Not a bad stage, really enjoyable with a nice flow. The last part reminds me of home, for the whole loop the tyres should work well. It is pretty close between everyone so it is small margins but there is a little bit left."
Fri 13:40 - SS5: Breen
Another strong performance from Craig on this stage, the Citroën can really stretch its legs on these faster stages. He breaks the beam at the flying finish and he is just 0.6sec down - that puts him third overall but with a few cars still to come through. "Much better than the first one, it was obviously a bogey one. I have a medium tyre on the rear so I'm trying to manage it the best I can."
Fri 13:37 - SS5: Evans
Elfyn reaches the stop control 3.6sec down and he's slipped behind Neuville overall by just 0.1sec. "The stage was all fine for me, no problems."
Fri 13:33 - SS5: Latvala
No water-related dramas for Jari-Matti on this test, he drops just 0.5sec and of course will gain a position because of Esapekka's misfortune. He should be second once all the cars come through. "It was a good stage, no mistakes, generally good clean drive."
Fri 13:32 - SS5: Evans
Brief stop for Elfyn at the 8km mark, he's going again now though.
Fri 13:31 - SS5: Lappi
The Finn reaches the end of the stage now and he's lost 22.9sec and dropped behind Neuville overall. He tells Emyr he tackled the watersplash the same way as on the first pass: "The same speed as on the first pass. I believe it is okay for the next stage."
Fri 13:28 - SS5: Lappi
Oh no! Lappi's stopped with a misfire just after the watersplash. He is going again now but he'll have lost a significant chunk of time.
Fri 13:27 - SS5: Tänak
Ott is really pushing his Yaris to the limit here, but that doesn't translate to a strong stage time - he's damaged the front-end of his car going through a watersplash and he's dropped 1.8sec to Neuville. He says: "The front was in the watersplash and took all the front away I guess. We had damage on the previous one, it is running like a dog."
Fri 13:24 - SS5: Neuville
Thierry chases the Frenchman through to the end of the stage and he's increased the gap between them by 1.6sec to 9.1sec. "The stage was okay, different tyre strategy than Ogier, let's see if it is working. I can't do much more."
Fri 13:21 - SS5: Ogier
Ogier has completed stage five in a time of 7m 52.7sec - that's almost 15sec quicker than his time on this stage this morning. He is talking to Emyr Penlan at stage-end: "The grip is better, but it is still getting a little bit better for the others. I have done two stages now where I am on the limit - I cannot do any more."
Fri 13:18 - SS5: Neuville
We quickly head onto the second run of the Coldwater test and the i20 driver has gained 0.8sec on Ogier at the 5.09km split.
Fri 13:17 - SS4: Linari
The Subaru man rounds out things for WRC 2 and he drops 51.7sec.
Fri 13:14 - SS4: A. Heller
The second Chilean through to the end of the stage is Pedro's brother Alberto. The class leader has extended his advantage on this stage to 16.8sec as he goes 4.8sec faster than the others on this test.
Fri 13:12 - SS4: P. Heller
Pedro Heller is the first WRC 2 car through to the end of the stage and he is quickly followed through by Armin Kremer - the German is 6.0sec down.
Fri 13:08 - SS4: Østberg
Mads is the next to complete the stage now and he is just 1.0sec off the fastest time - his lead is still 4.5sec. "This was the stage where we would sacrifice a bit to gain later so I am pleased with that."
Fri 13:02 - SS4: Suninen
Teemu Suninen is quietly getting on with the job at hand here, the Finn is cracking on with things during his first visit to Australia and he crosses the line 2.0sec down on the fastest time. "The driving was a bit better and I was quite happy with the driving. Maybe I could have gone a little bit faster."
Fri 13:00 - SS4: Paddon
Hayden gains a position on this stage, he's 1.9sec down on the fastest time but has enough in hand to relegate Breen down a place overall. "Sun is shining and it's hot so the hard is the only option. I knew this stage wouldn't be great for the hards but they should be spot on for the next one. I'm starting to get a bit of mojo back too."
Fri 12:56 - SS4: Breen
Craig Breen completes the stage now in his C3 WRC and he has dropped 2.6sec to the fastest time on this stage. How did he find this? "I had a couple of silly slides and mistakes but it is not bad - it's only two seconds." He's dropped a position to Tänak overall.
Fri 12:53 - SS4: Evans
The Welshman has been pushing the Fiesta sublimely through the gravel on this sunny Friday but on this stage he's lost a bit of time - he's the slowest through the stage 2.8sec down. "It's to be expected, so it's fine. It's just how it is." Hmm, that's not quite like the Elfyn we normally see, surprisingly downbeat for the M-Sport Ford man.
Fri 12:50 - SS4: Latvala
Three Toyotas in a row through to the end of this test and he is 1.3sec down - he can't match his team-mates on this 8.77km test. He says: "It is okay, we lost a little bit to Ott and Esapekka but they were running a mix of tyres while I'm running four hards. The next stages should be better for me on the hards."
Fri 12:47 - SS4: Lappi
Esapekka, competing in his last rally for Toyota before he moves to Citroën next year, is through to the stop control of the fourth stage of Friday and he is just 0.1sec down. "The road was more slippy which was a surprise for me. I expected more grip but it wasn't there. I went for the hard tyres but I don't think it is the tyre choice, it is more the surface."
Fri 12:46 - SS4: Tänak
A replay shows Ott clipped a fence post.
Fri 12:44 - SS4: Tänak
Ott was 0.8sec to the good at the 4.11km split and he holds onto that advantage as he crosses the flying finish and even extends it to 1.0sec over Ogier. He looks back at some damage to the rear-left on his Yaris: "At the start I hit the bale. It is affecting the way the car is handling."
Fri 12:41 - SS4: Neuville
Thierry's lost time in the second half of this test, from 0.3sec up he's completed the stage 0.9sec slower than the Frenchman. Does he explain the time loss to Colin? "We are on a different tyre strategy and for me I think this is the worst stage. I'm on three hard and two soft and he is on three soft and two hard so let's see what is working better." Bit downbeat from the Belgian at the end of this one.
Fri 12:38 - SS4: Ogier
Speaking of Ogier, he's through to the end of the stage already and he's speaking to Colin Clark. "Not really fantastic line, honestly I was on the limit the whole stage - I cannot do more."
Fri 12:37 - SS4: Neuville
Thierry is onto the stage and through the split 0.3sec quicker than Ogier.
Fri 12:34 - Afternoon tyres
Østberg - 5 hard Breen - 2 medium and 3 hard Latvala/Paddon/Suninen - 4 hard and 1 medium Neuville/Tänak/Lappi/Evans - 3 hard and 2 medium Ogier - 3 medium and 2 hard
Fri 12:30 - We're back!
After an exciting morning loop, we're back for the afternoon which is kicking off in just a couple of minutes!
Fri 10:50 - Technical break
With the drivers pulling back into service, we'll take a small break before Orara East 2, which starts at 12.32 local time.
Fri 10:48 - Media Zone: Lappi
"Car has been enjoyable and nothing has been disturbing so you can fully concentrate on your job. It's been nice to drive so I'm enjoying. "If you take the first part away it is really like Finland. These man-made jumps are taking away the general feeling of the stages though. "I don't want to think about the manufacturers' title too much, I'm just doing my job and then at the end of the rally we'll look at it."
Fri 10:45 - Media Zone: Tänak
"Overall, quite happy. The car has been good. On the first two stages I was more cautious but on the last stage I was pushing. The feeling is there, we just need to speed up a bit. "On Sherwood, there is a place with a compression and then a bump just after which makes the car feel a bit odd. We took the tyre off the rim. "The jumps are difficult, some are lower, some higher. Even the second loop I believe it will still be very difficult."
Fri 10:43 - Media Zone: Neuville
"I think obviously our aim was to be ahead of Seb after the first couple of stages. So that is job done, but the road is really cleaning and the cars behind are going a lot quicker so it will be tricky to try and gain any more positions. "On Sherwood it was just a bump and the car just lifted at the rear. Some are flat out and some are not so it is difficult to judge."
Fri 10:42 - Media Zone: Ogier
"For sure we were hoping for a bit of dampness but unfortunately it was not. It was the normal condition here to open the road. I'm happy with my drive, I was pushing hard, I had a good feeling but the road is getting faster and faster with every car. There's not much I can do. "I haven't heard about rain, but I think it is going to be pretty much the same story as this morning so we'll see what we can do."
Fri 10:40 - WRC 2 standings after SS3
1. A. Heller 28m 22.7sec 2. P. Heller +12.0sec 3. Kremer +26.2sec 4. Linari +4m 01.3sec
Fri 10:40 - SS3: Linari
The Italian completes the morning loop now and he is 1m 55.1sec down.
Fri 10:36 - SS3: A. Heller
Through the spluts it looked like he was going to miss out on his first stage win of the day but he just pips brother Pedro to the stage win by 0.1sec to extend his lead at the top of the class to 12.0sec
Fri 10:34 - SS3: Kremer
Armin Kremer completes the stage now and he is just 7.2sec off the pace on this, the longest stage of the day.
Fri 10:32 - SS3: P. Heller
Pedro Heller kicks off the run of WRC 2 runners powering through the stage and he has set a 14m 27.6sec.
Fri 10:30 - SS3: Serderidis
Jourdan reaches the end now and he is 2m 30.6sec slower than Østberg's cracking time.
Fri 10:29 - WRC standings after SS3
1. Østberg 25m 34.4sec 2. Lappi +5.4sec 3. Latvala +5.8sec 4. Breen +7.0sec 5. Paddon +7.3sec 6. Tänak +7.8sec Neuville is 9th and Ogier is 10th
Fri 10:26 - SS3: Østberg
Good grief Mads, where's this time come from? The Citroëns have monstered this test as the Norseman flies through the Sherwood forest. At the final split he was 5.2sec up on his team-mate and as he breaks the beam at the flying finish he's gone 5.9sec quicker than anyone! That's moved him into the rally lead by 5.4sec! "It was very enjoyable! What can I say? It was a beautiful stage and I had a good rhythm through there, I was thinking back to Finland when I was on the start line there. I didn't do this stage last year, but the car was great, it was a good morning all in all."
Fri 10:23 - SS3: Suninen
Teemu Suninen completes the morning loop and he is 6.3sec down on the stage as the sun continues to make its presence felt on the stages this morning, the dust kicking up behind the Finn's Fiesta. He tells Colin: "It was quite challenging, our first time here and I was too careful on those bumps because they look quite hard, but it was not too bad."
Fri 10:20 - SS3: Paddon
Hayden is the picture of concentration on this test as he puts in a more that respectable stage time - he's just 0.7sec slower than Breen, going second-fastest through the stage. Good morning so far for the Kiwi but he does lose a position to Breen overall. "Definitely coming back to me, the first half of the stage was really good. Struggled a little bit for the rhythm for the last five or six Ks but it's alright."
Fri 10:17 - SS3: Breen
Flat to the square right on this one, to borrow Craig's favourite phrase, as he sets the fastest time on this test - 0.9sec quicker than Ott Tänak. He thinks he might have a cracked brake disc as he talks to Scott Martin on the journey between the flying finish and stop control. "Not great, I think I have a cracked disc - very tricky through the stage. Few big jumps, couple of buckoos if you want to call them that."
Fri 10:14 - SS3: Evans
Elfyn Evans keeps it clean on what is proving to be a rather tricky Sherwood test and he is just 4.8sec down - the fourth fastest on the stage so far.
Fri 10:09 - SS3: Latvala
Ahead of Andreas, Jari-Matti is through to the end and he's dropped 1.4sec to Ott and he's now 0.4sec down on Lappi at the head of the leaderboard.
Fri 10:07 - SS3: Mikkelsen
Andreas stops the car and switches the engine off with steam coming out the front. Looks like radiator damage for the Norwegian, such a shame for him.
Fri 10:06 - SS3: Mikkelsen
Oh no Andreas! He gets a tank slapper on into a left-hander and he goes into a ditch. He's damaged the car quite a bit. He drove on for a time, but he's pulled over now with a smashed windscreen and damaged front-end.
Fri 10:05 - SS3: Lappi
And lets calm it down a bit now. Esapekka doesn't have the same drama on this test and he is through to the end cleanly. He drops just 1.0sec to his team-mate. "It's been a nice morning. I've been enjoying it. Here, the new man-made bumps are really nasty but it is the same for everybody. They are on such fast sections."
Fri 10:01 - SS3: Tänak
Oh my word Ott Tänak! He's a lucky man there. Going over a kicker he starts to lose control slightly going into a relatively tight right-hander and he goes up right against the bank. He does no harm though, and reaches the end 7.2sec up on Neuville. He's got some wheel damage on the rear-left. "It was a really big bump and it just threw us off the road. It damaged the wheel as well, it lost me time towards the end."
Fri 09:59 - SS3: Neuville
Thierry also reaches the stop control for this test and he is 3.9sec up. What does he tell Colin Clark at the end of this one? Nicolas Gilsoul is certainly excited as they pull into the stop. "I tried to do a good stage, but I got a huge kick on one of those jumps and almost rolled - I took it a bit steady after that." That explains Nicolas's 'Oo la la" at the end.
Fri 09:56 - SS3: Ogier
The man himself is at the end of the stage now, how did he find the conditions? "It is the worst, we knew it before. I guess this one is going to be hard. I think I will be cleaning again this afternoon."
Fri 09:54 - SS3: Neuville
Thierry is also continuing to take time out of Ogier as the Frenchman continues to sweep the road out front. At the 19.64km mark the Hyundai driver is 4.0sec to the good.
Fri 09:53 - SS3: Lappi
The second Toyota of Esapekka Lappi is onto the stage and he is 1.5sec down on Tänak as it stands as he passes the first split.
Fri 09:53 - SS3: Tänak
No backing off from the ice-cold Estonian - at the 9.2km split he's 4.0sec up on Neuville and 7.1sec up on Ogier.
Fri 09:50 - SS3: Tänak
Quite predictably this season, Ott has set quite a respectable opening split - he's a whole 1.6sec quicker than Neuville.
Fri 09:46 - SS3: Neuville
Five splits keep track of our crews on this 26.68km test and at the first timing point - 4.87km in - Neuville is 1.7sec up.
Fri 09:42 - SS3: Ogier
No messing around this morning, we're already onto the third stage as Ogier releases the handbrake on his Fiesta and gets onto the stage.
Fri 09:40 - Stage info: SS3
Sherwood 1, 26.68km Sherwood begins on a wide uphill road and the opening few kilometres are fast and flowing with plenty of corners requiring full commitment. After 10km the stage narrows and the second half contains the corner where Kris Meeke went off the road 12 months ago. The only stage of the event that is identical to 2017.
Fri 09:36 - WRC 2 standings after SS2
1. A. Heller 13m 55.2sec 2. P. Heller +11.9sec 3. Kremer +18.9sec 4. Linari +2m 06.2sec
Fri 09:35 - SS2: Linari
Gianluca accelerates his Impreza through to the stop control now and he is 1m 07.1sec down.
Fri 09:32 - SS2: A. Heller
Alberto is the faster of the Chileans so far, he's a massive 8.2sec to the good compared to hs brother!
Fri 09:30 - SS2: Kremer
The German is finding his rallying feet again as he tackles his first event of the year. He's 3.2sec down on Heller.
Fri 09:28 - SS2: P. Heller
Pedro is through to the end in his Fiesta and he's set an 8m 50.5sec for the rest of the WRC 2 class to chase down.
Fri 09:28 - SS2: Serderidis
Back on the stage, Jourdan Serderidis - who is Greek - is having his pace notes read in French by Belgian co-driver Lara Vanneste in a decent display of multi-lingual knowledge. Decent time on the board as well from Jourdan, he's 1m 24.0sec down. He says: "Fast and flowing indeed! We don't have the right set-up for this type of this stage, it was better suited to the last one but it is still early days." Big smiles from Jourdan.
Fri 09:25 - WRC standings after SS2
Two Toyotas tied at the top. 1. Lappi 12m 43.0sec =1. Latvala 12m 43.0sec 3. Østberg 2.4sec 4. Paddon 3.1sec 5. Tänak 3.4sec 6. Breen 3.5sec
Fri 09:23 - SS2: Østberg
Here's another driver who has lost time late in the stage. For Mads he's gone from 1.3sec up to 1.5sec down at the line but he's third overall now. "The stage is beautiful but I didn't enjoy it. I was unable to have any rhythm, I don't know why. The car was working and Torstein was doing his job on the notes, I just need to some time to get back into it again."
Fri 09:19 - SS2: Suninen
De Ja Vu here, Teemu Suninen was great on the opening split - to the tune of 1.3sec - but he too has lost some time and eventually reaches the stop control with a deficit of 2.2sec to Latvala. "I tried to keep the car on the line, and I was braking too hard - too aggressively - on a couple of occassions, but quite okay."
Fri 09:17 - SS2: Paddon
Paddon is another driver who a decent start but has started to fade slightly as he reaches the end. At the 5.09km split he was 0.9sec to the good but he's slipped to 1.6sec down - not bad going mind you. "Really struggling for a rhythm this morning, because I've been out of the car for a wee while I'm struggling to gel with the notes and the car. The car itself is fine, it's just me trying to get in sync with the car and the notes."
Fri 09:14 - SS2: Breen
Go on Craig, he was 1.5sec up on Latvala at the first split. He's lost a bit of time as the stage goes on but he crosses the line just 0.5sec off. "Mediocre, I'm struggling with the front of the car to be honest. I can't get the car to work how I want, but at least the time is going in the right direction." Not quite as happy as we thought he might have been, but more to come from Breen
Fri 09:11 - SS2: Evans
Elfyn Evans pops in a decent time here as the sun shines on the Coldwater test - he's fourth fastest, 4.3sec off the pace. He's talking to fellow Welshman Emyr Penlan at stage-end: "All pretty good I think, not perfect everywhere but pretty good."
Fri 09:08 - SS2: Mikkelsen
Hyundai number two comes through and Andreas has lost some time in the latter kilometres of this test - he's 5.3sec off the fastest time. "It was an okay stage, nothing more, nothing less. Could have gone faster, wasn't too efficient. Hope it will be better on the next stage."
Fri 09:05 - SS2: Latvala
Those Yarises are really working this morning, he's 0.4sec up on Lappi at the final split and he crosses the flying finish 1.2sec up on his countryman. He's level on times with Esapekka at the top of the leaderboard. What does he tell Emyr? "The car is working well. I was very happy to drive. One slippy left-hander - a junction where I jumped a bit more than I expected." He's a happy Jari-Matti so far.
Fri 09:02 - SS2: Lappi
Esapekka where is this coming from? He's the first driver to drop below the 8min barrier with a time 2.6sec faster than his team-mate. Good work that man. "To be honest, it didn't feel so good. It was so wide and I was too cautious. I felt like I had a lot of room on every corner. Lot of margin for sure, I can try to go much faster."
Fri 08:59 - SS2: Tänak
The Toyota man takes the fastest time on stage by 2.9sec he's doing his typical performance here - pushing hard but making it looking almost effortless. "The stage was okay, but there is still a bit of cleaning. Definitely not on the limit, still just the second stage." Blimey, when he finally gives it full beans he'll be really going!
Fri 08:56 - SS2: Neuville
The Belgian is through to the stage-end and he's 4.0sec up on Ogier through this test - the gap between them 4.5sec in the standings. He says: "It was a good stage, it is difficult one but I tried to do a clean stage. I saw the lines of Seb, very wide everywhere, I tried to calm it down and be a bit more efficient."
Fri 08:54 - SS2: Tänak
Tänak is doing what he's done so often this season - absolutely dominating. At the 5.09km opening split he's 1.9sec up on Neuville and 2.0sec up on Ogier.
Fri 08:53 - SS2: Ogier
Ogier is through to the end of the stage now and he's talking to Emyr Penlan at stop control. "Good feeling, I push and I cannot really do more than this. The end of the stage is really dry so that will affect the times."
Fri 08:52 - SS2: Neuville
With SS1 in the books for the most part, we'll look in on Coldwater and Neuville is looking good on the splits - on the second he's 1.9sec up on Ogier.
Fri 08:51 - SS1: Linari
Gianluca Linari is through to the end now in his very nice Subaru Impreza. He's dropped 59.1sec to the class leader.
Fri 08:48 - SS1: A. Heller
Pedro's brother Alberto has pushed his brother off the top with a corking time - he's 3.7sec to the good in his Fiesta.
Fri 08:46 - SS1: Kremer
Armin Kremer is through in his Skoda Fabia - very much the dominant car in the championship this season - but he can't topple the Chilean - he's 3.8sec down.
Fri 08:44 - SS1: P. Heller
Pedro Heller is the first of the WRC 2 entries to reach the end of the stage and he sets a 5m 16.6sec for the rest of the category to aim at.
Fri 08:42 - SS1: Serderidis
Back on SS1, Jourdan Serderidis completes the stage in his Fiesta and he's 57.0sec down.
Fri 08:41 - Stage info: SS2
Coldwater 1, 14.12km These roads have not been used for four years and on that occasion they were driven in the opposite direction. Coldwater starts on a wide road and climbs for the opening 5km, with a series of ‘kickers’ to keep drivers alert. The surface becomes smoother after the climbing stops, just as the roads become narrower and more technical.
Fri 08:40 - Stage info: SS2
The second stage is getting underway in 3 minutes, let's see what it has in store...
Fri 08:40 - SS1: Østberg
Blimey, the helicopter shots are showing quite a bit of rain in the forests for our penultimate WRC driver through the stage - Mads Østberg. He was 0.1sec quicker than anyone at the split but he loses time late on, finishing 2.1sec down. "Not a bad start, I struggled a bit in some sections with some understeering. But when it was working it was working nice, but with the two understeerings I made two mistakes in some pretty important corners." That explains the late time loss.
Fri 08:36 - SS1: Suninen
Teemu Suninen rounds out the M-Sport Ford cars through this opening speed test and he is 2.8sec down - decent enough start for the Finn, but lost some time in the second half of the stage. "Feeling was okay, grip was quite high so I could push a little bit harder."
Fri 08:34 - SS1: Paddon
Hayden Paddon is the 10th driver to complete this test, and he's local(ish) the New Zealander powers his way through to stop control 2.7sec down. He says: "No problems, just didn't have a very good rhythm in there. A little under-committed in some placed and over-committed in others."
Fri 08:31 - SS1: Breen
The Irishman is the first of the Citroëns through to the end of the stage and he is 4.2sec off the pace - the slowest through so far.
Fri 08:27 - SS1: Evans
On-boards show Elfyn's got his wipers on in the Fiesta as the rain starts to sprinkle on the stage. That doesn't affect him too much though, he's 2.5sec down on the fastest time as he crosses the flying finish. "It felt not so bad, but maybe a little bit careful - it's the way of the game here unfortunately."
Fri 08:25 - SS1: Mikkelsen
The Norwegian had a strong start here 12 months ago and he's not doing too bad at all on this test. He matches Esapekka's time on the mid-point split but he loses a bit of time towards the end - he's 1.8sec off the pace. He tells Colin: "It was an okay stage, careful in places - first stage just trying to get myself dialled in. Happy enough, happy enough."
Fri 08:22 - SS1: Latvala
Even though we appreciate it's only the first of 24 stages, it's a Toyota 1-2-3 at the moment! Jari-Matti slots himself into third, 1.2sec off his fellow Finn Esapekka. "This stage, we were running this in the shakedown yesterday so it was already pretty clean and we don't have the cleaning effect as much. It was pretty slippy in some places though."
Fri 08:19 - SS1: Lappi
Ott Tänak's Toyota team-mate Esapekka Lappi keeps on lowering the times down as the stage cleans. He's 0.8sec quicker than the Estonian after a cracking opening run. "It was a good start, very clean run. Pretty happy for that. Seems the set-up is good, now we go on a little different kind of surface so I hope it works good there as well." A happy Lappi this morning.
Fri 08:15 - SS1: Tänak
Speed demon Ott Tänak is flying once again - he's 1.3sec up on his fellow championship fighters early doors. He tells Colin: "Feeling is good, the grip is quite high. It is surprising, but the next stage will be a completely different surface."
Fri 08:13 - SS1: Neuville
The next to put a time on the board is Thierry Neuville and he lowers the target time by 0.5sec. "In this stage there is not much difference, in the first kilometre there is a little bit of cleaning. Had a good run, nothing major. There is still margin to improve."
Fri 08:10 - SS1: Ogier
Seb, meanwhile, gets the first stage complete now in a time of 4m 48.1sec and he's talking to Colin Clark at the end of the stage. "I would have wished for a bit more rain for sure, it is quite dry - not optimum."
Fri 08:08 - SS1: Neuville
Bright start from the Belgian, he's 0.4sec faster than Ogier at the 4.11km split.
Fri 08:06 - SS1: Neuville
Thierry Neuville gets his title charge underway as he launches the i20 onto the stage now.
Fri 08:03 - SS1: Go!
Here we go then, get yourself comfy we're going rallying! Sébastien Ogier is powering his way onto the first stage of Rally Australia now.
Fri 08:02 - Stage guide: SS1
Orara East 1, 8.77km Friday morning’s opener is new for 2018 but the roads remain familiar. Some were used in Thursday’s shakedown and others form part of Sunday’s Power Stage. It’s narrow at the start where the surface is very loose, but the roads are generally fast and a chicane has been inserted midway through to reduce speeds. Most of the test is forested.
Fri 07:59 - Tyres:
All the crews have started the day with 5 Michelin medium compound tyres for the morning loop
Fri 07:56 - Start list:
Championship order means Seb goes first: 1. Ogier 2. Neuville 3. Tänak 4. Lappi 5. Latvala 6. Mikkelsen 7. Evans 8. Breen 9. Paddon 10. Suninen 11. Østberg 12. Serderidis
Fri 07:53 - Weather
It’s a wet start to proceedings here in Coffs, and the reports are that the stages are looking damp - could that favour our championship leader starting first on the road?
Fri 07:50 - Today’s itinerary
The day kicks off with a pass of the 8.77km Orara East test, before heading onto Coldwater (14.12km) and Sherwood (26.68km). A service back in the Coffs Harbour service park splits the day up before the three stages are repeated again. Ending the day is two runs of the 1.27km Destination NSW super special stage on the beach front.
Fri 07:47 - WRC 2 crews
Four crews have made the trip out for the WRC 2 support class with brothers Pedro and Alberto Heller in Fiestas, Armin Kremer in a Skoda Fabia R5 and Gianluca Linari is taking part in a Subaru Impreza - his second start of the year after an appearance earlier in the year in Sweden.
Fri 07:44 - Runners and riders
The top WRC class welcomes 12 cars to the Antipodean test. M-Sport Ford has four Fiestas at the event, one each for Sébastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen, as well as an extra entry for 2017 WRC Trophy champion Jourdan Serderidis, who is making his second appearance of the season. Hyundai has three i20s for championship contender Thierry Neuville, with Andreas Mikkelsen and New Zealander Hayden Paddon lining up alongside the Belgian. Toyota also enters three cars with Yarises for Ott Tänak, Esapekka Lappi and Jari-Matti Latvala. Rounding out the entry is the Citroën pairing of Craig Breen and Mads Østberg, who are both in C3s.
Fri 07:41 - What’s happening now?
The gravel rally gets underway in full force today with eight stages set to test the crews - starting at 8.03am local time!
Fri 07:38 - What happened yesterday?
Thursday was focused on the ceremonial start in Coffs Harbour and, of course, shakedown! Sébastien Ogier topped that, his time of 2m 53.8sec 0.2sec quicker than anyone else could manage. Joint second was Andreas Mikkelsen and Ott Tänak, with Thierry Neuville 0.3sec off Ogier in fourth. Craig Breen was fifth with Hayden Paddon the final driver within a second of the fastest stage time in sixth.
Fri 07:35 - Manufacturers’ crown
The third title set to be decided in New South Wales is the manufacturers’ title. A strong second-half of the season has moved Toyota Gazoo Racing into the prime position with 331 points. But with 43 points available for a one-two finish, Hyundai Shell Mobis (319 points) and M-Sport Ford (306 points) are both well in with a chance of snatching the title away from Toyota.
Fri 07:32 - Co-drivers’ title
As well as the drivers, the co-drivers are also fighting for a crown of their own. Ogier’s navigator Julien Ingrassia currently leads the way, with Nicolas Gilsoul second and Martin Järveoja in third.
Fri 07:29 - Drivers’ championship
After 12 rounds spanning the globe, it all comes down to this - 24 stages of action spread over three days. Sébastien Ogier currently holds the top spot but Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville is just three points behind. Ott Tänak is also in with a shot of the title - in just his first season at Toyota - and he is 23 points behind the Frenchman after a sixth-placed finish in Spain.
Fri 07:26 - We’re live
On wrc.com and the WRC app, bringing text updates from down under on a can’t miss season finale as three WRC drivers battle for the title.
Fri 07:23 - G’Day one and all!
It’s finally here, one of the most exciting title deciders in years and it is all going to go down right here at Kennards Hire Rally Australia. We'll be providing a Live Text service for the whole event, so you won't miss a thing.
Fri 06:35 - SS1 ORARA EAST 1
The opening Stage SS1 (8.77 km) starts 08:03 am local time Australia (UTC+11)
Fri 22:28 - Kennards Hire Rally Australia 2018
The ultimate World Rally Championship Battle - watch the 26 min Preview Magazine on wrcplus.com