SS10: Meeke leads
as Paddon flies

Kris Meeke retained the lead of Coates Hire Rally Australia at the midpoint of Saturday’s second leg, but Hayden Paddon was the man on the move as he added a second stage win through the live TV Valla test.

Stage info: SS10

Valla 1, 7.94km
Valla may only be short but last year it caught out Kris Meeke, Thierry Neuville and Robert Kubica. It’s the same stage and includes both wide and narrow roads, with several bridge crossings. Organisers have placed hay bales on the inside of the corner Meeke cut last year and later received a penalty.

Paddon, who won the opening Nambucca signature stage, went fastest in Valla in his Hyundai i20. The Kiwi remained fifth, but such is the pace on this 10th round of the FIA World Rally Championship he is just 9.3sec behind leader Meeke.

“My confidence is much better, I feel I can drive like normal. I’m making the best of my road position but it will probably be a bit more difficult this afternoon. Yesterday didn’t go to plan but we sat down and regrouped last night and we’re back in the fight,” said Paddon.

Meeke was fifth, his soft compound tyres hanging on long enough to set a competitive time. “The tyres don’t have much left and it was a bit slippery so I had to check myself. I’m leading by a whisker, but we all know what the Volkswagens can do in the afternoon,” said the DS 3 pilot.

Jari-Matti Latvala was third in his Volkswagen Polo R to retain second place, 2.3sec behind Meeke. “I lost time in the long stage previously so I had more inspiration here to get some time back,” the Finn told WRC Live.

Sébastien Ogier relegated team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen to fourth overall but less than three seconds cover the Volkswagen trio.

Ott Tänak was second fastest in his Ford Fiesta RS to retain sixth from Dani Sordo’s Hyundai i20. Thierry Neuville, a more confident Elfyn Evans and WRC 2 leader Nasser Al-Attiyah completed the leaderboard.

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