Find out more about our subscriptions

Sebastien Ogier crashed while trying to build big lead before Saturday road cleaning

Sebastien Ogier's crashed Citroen in AustraliaSebastien Ogier says he was trying to build a cushion over the field in anticipation of having to run first on the road on Saturday when he crashed out of Rally Australia halfway through leg one.

The Citroen driver was nine seconds clear of Ford's Mikko Hirvonen in second place and looked set to carve into Sebastien Loeb's points advantage as the championship leader had already rolled two stages earlier.

Conditions were extremely difficult on Friday due to the combination of heavy rain on the stages and hard Michelin tyres better suited to dry stages, but Ogier said the crash was more due to him pushing to extend his lead than the slippery surface. Citroen expected the weather would be better on Saturday and that the road would therefore be very dusty for the overnight leader.

"The stage was really tricky - we had absolutely no grip with the hard tyre. But before that it was okay," he said.

"We were trying to get a gap to the Ford drivers because we knew that tomorrow was going to be a cleaning day.

"But we went a bit wide on a left-hand corner and we just touched a small bank with the rear of the car and then we did a spin, but during this spin we hit a tree with the front of the car and we destroyed the radiator."

The Citroen duo's accidents on leg one mean that Ford pair Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala start Saturday stages in one-two formation, and with team orders likely to be applied to give Hirvonen the best possible shot at gaining ground in the championship.

  More news  
Read the AUTOSPORT Digital Edition
Visit the shop
See highlights from 60 years of AUTOSPORT
Ford: Win a huge morale boost
Hirvonen takes win and gains on Loeb
Latvala slows to let Hirvonen lead
Novikov says crash his biggest ever
Latvala to cede lead with one stage left
Latvala still in front in Australia
Latvala leads into final day
Latvala maintains lead over Hirvonen
Hunt delighted with Australia progress
Block rues mistake during recce
Ogier still thinks points are possible
Latvala takes lead in Australia
Rally set to have more wet conditions
Ford intends to employ team orders
Ford holds one-two at end of Friday
Q & A: Loeb on Rally Australia crash
Loeb: Crash was concentration lapse
Hirvonen leads amid high drama
New engine revitalises Solberg
WRC field say conditions dangerous
Wilson surprised by Loeb's mistake
Citroen hopes Loeb will restart
Ogier crashes out of Australia lead
Ogier leads following Loeb's crash
Loeb rolls out in Australia
Ogier leads after superspecial
Hunt to start despite turbo problem