SS11: Ogier turns up
pressure on Meeke

The thrilling battle for victory at Coates Hire Rally Australia continued unabated in Saturday afternoon’s second pass through the marathon Nambucca stage – fastest time went to Sébastien Ogier but Kris Meeke retained his slender lead.

Stage info: SS11

Nambucca 2, 50.80km
Nambucca is identical to last year but with a new 1.88km section at the end. It’s fast and flowing with big corners and crests, although there is a 4km area in the middle which is extremely tight between trees. Loose gravel means staying on the clean line will be key.

Ogier beat Meeke by 1.5km through the 50.80km test to move into second overall in his Volkswagen Polo R. It left the margin between the pair at 2.4sec with one stage remaining in the penultimate leg.

“Even on the wide section I suffered from a lack of grip,” said Ogier. “I tried too hard and slid too much. I couldn’t give any more and it wasn’t completely perfect, but when you try hard it gets like that.”

Meeke smiled when he pulled up to the finish line in Citroën’s DS 3 and said: “I’m being careful not to overstep the mark. I felt comfortable but I had no idea whether it was going to be a good time or note. But I like being in front!” he said.

Andreas Mikkelsen and Jari-Matti Latvala were split by a tenth of a second and that dropped Latvala to third overall, 1.9sec behind Ogier and 2.8sec clear of Mikkelsen.

“I’m still in the game and still fighting but I can’t get the best rhythm,” said Latvala. Mikkelsen was hindered by hanging dust and an errant baseball cap which flew into the footwell after a heavy landing over a jump.

Hayden Paddon’s challenge suffered a setback with a gear selection problem in his Hyundai i20 and worn tyres, but he remains fifth, 19.0sec off the lead.

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