WRC Rally Australia: Andreas Mikkelsen continues to pull away

Andreas Mikkelsen finished Rally Australia's opening day's forest stages with a 20-second lead, as Kris Meeke and Thierry Neuville scrapped over second place

WRC Rally Australia: Andreas Mikkelsen continues to pull away

Mikkelsen kicked off the second loop by pulling another 0.7s over the field on the short Pilbara stage, before being beaten for the first time all day on the second pass through Eastbank, where Hyundai team-mate Neuville edging the leader by a just tenth.

He then bounced back on SS6, beating Neuville by 1.7s to extend his lead out to 20.9s with only the superspecials left to run on Friday.

"It has been really amazing today and I'm really enjoying my third rally with Hyundai," said Mikkelsen.

"There are still two stages to go [on Friday evening] but things are looking very good. With these roads and this car I can do exactly what I want."

Just over two seconds separate Meeke and Neuville in the battle for second place, after the Hyundai driver was quicker over all three stages.

Neuville forced a change in the overall standings by topping the second stage of the afternoon loop, a six-second advantage over Citroen's Craig Breen on Pilbara moving the Belgian into third.

It also moved him to within 2.7s of Meeke in second ahead of the day's final full-length stage, that gap further reduced to 2.2s after Neuville was slightly quicker on the 16-mile Sherwood.

Jari-Matti Latvala made up two spots with the equal second best time on the final stage, which helped him jump Tanak and Breen into fourth.

Breen went two spots in the wrong direction, a particularly poor showing on the second pass through Sherwood leaving him down in fifth.

Like his Hyundai team-mates, Hayden Paddon opted to exclusively use the soft tyre across the loop. It was initially beneficial, the Kiwi jumping both Latvala and Tanak in the overall standings with the fourth quickest time on SS5.

But the softs didn't hold up for the sixth stage, Paddon dropping back behind the same pair he jumped the stage before after losing 9s to the leaders.

World Rally champion Sebastien Ogier made what looked to be a promising start to the second loop with the second quickest time on SS4, despite the return of the gearshift issue that first reared its head during the morning's stages.

This time the problem became more and more costly over the longer two stages that followed, and between that and still running first on the road Ogier dropped significant time. It was 11.6s on the second pass through Eastbank, before he lost another 7.1s on the final forest stage of the day.

He now sits eighth, 48.1s behind the leader.

Leading positions after SS6

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 55m45.6s
2 Kris Meeke, P.Nagle Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 20.9s
3 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 23.1s
4 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC Toyota 30.4s
5 Craig Breen, S.Martin Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 31.1s
6 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 35.3s
7 Hayden Paddon, S.Marshall Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 37.4s
8 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 48.1s
9 Stephane Lefebvre, G.Moreau Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 53.4s
10 Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 1m11.2s

shares
comments
WRC Rally Australia: Mikkelsen pulls clear after Meeke error
Previous article

WRC Rally Australia: Mikkelsen pulls clear after Meeke error

Next article

WRC Rally Australia: Mikkelsen leads, Neuville overcomes Meeke

WRC Rally Australia: Mikkelsen leads, Neuville overcomes Meeke
Load comments
How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers Plus

How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers

After winning his eighth WRC title, Sebastien Ogier has drawn the curtain on his full-time rallying career. To understand Ogier's legacy, many of his former rivals, team-mates and colleagues have shared their thoughts on a vastly successful career

WRC
Nov 26, 2021
Ranking lost WRC legend Richard Burns' 10 best rallies Plus

Ranking lost WRC legend Richard Burns' 10 best rallies

Richard Burns was a determined driver who took on the best rally drivers in the world during a boom period in the early 2000s, and beat them. On the 20th anniversary of his crowning glory in winning the 2001 WRC title, and 16 years on from his death on the same date, Autosport picks out his 10 greatest drives

WRC
Nov 25, 2021
The internal focus that made Burns a legendary world rally champion Plus

The internal focus that made Burns a legendary world rally champion

At the turn of the millennium, WRC was full to the brim with rallying's great and good - and 20 years ago on this day, Richard Burns became England's first world rally champion. Although Burns' natural talent drove him to the top, his steely determination and mental strength was the key attribute behind his title-winning form

WRC
Nov 25, 2021
How Ogier emerged out of Loeb's shadow to form his own WRC legend Plus

How Ogier emerged out of Loeb's shadow to form his own WRC legend

OPINION: Adding an eighth WRC title to his name, Sebastien Ogier has bowed out from full-time rallying in style. Having been compared throughout his career with nine-time champion Sebastien Loeb, Ogier has convincingly demonstrated that he can stand on his own as one of the greatest rally drivers in history

WRC
Nov 22, 2021
How confronting self-doubt drove Ogier to become a WRC legend Plus

How confronting self-doubt drove Ogier to become a WRC legend

This weekend's Rally Monza marks the end of an era in the World Rally Championship, as Sebastien Ogier prepares to bring down the curtain on his full-time career with an eighth title. For all his enduring success, the Toyota driver reveals in an exclusive interview that lingering insecurities have compelled his quest for perfection

WRC
Nov 18, 2021
The third generation McRae on his way to the WRC Plus

The third generation McRae on his way to the WRC

The McRae family name is steeped in rallying history, with eight British titles between Jimmy, Colin and Alister - plus the small matter of the 1995 WRC title too. Next on the conveyor of talent is Alister's 17-year-old Max McRae, who’s setting out in Australia to conquer the world of rallying and return the famous name to the WRC...

WRC
Nov 12, 2021
Inside Hyundai’s radical approach to prepare for the WRC hybrid era Plus

Inside Hyundai’s radical approach to prepare for the WRC hybrid era

As the World Rally Championship undergoes its biggest shift in regulations for a generation, teams are taking radical measures to prepare for its new era. Hyundai's unique approach involved conducting a private 1500km rally in Italy and Autosport went to see how the team is preparing for 2022

WRC
Nov 4, 2021
How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain Plus

How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain

While all pre-event chat focused on the two World Rally Championship title fighters, their closest challenger charged into the spotlight on Rally Spain. Thierry Neuville's star turn and another strong drive from Elfyn Evans in his fight with Sebastien Ogier made for an intriguing event as the 2021 campaign nears its crunch point

WRC
Oct 18, 2021