WRC Rally Australia: Citroen's Kris Meeke leads Hyundais

Kris Meeke's Citroen leads the Hyundais of Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon after the opening morning of Rally Australia, with World Rally Championship leader Sebastien Ogier back in sixth

WRC Rally Australia: Citroen's Kris Meeke leads Hyundais

Ogier was expecting to lose time on the first three stages, where his first-on-the-road status would be most costly on very dusty roads.

Sure enough the Volkswagen driver was back in eighth after the Northbank stage, but he regained ground on Newry Long, where road position was less critical.

Hyundai initially held a one-two, with Sordo making the most of being eighth in the start order to go fastest on all of the first three stages.

A downshift problem and a stall at a hairpin then hampered his pace on Newry Long, allowing stage winner Meeke to leap into first place, 3.3 seconds ahead of Sordo and 7s clear of third-placed Paddon.

Sordo and Paddon have swapped places in the Hyundai pecking order this weekend - with New Zealander Paddon scoring for the main Hyundai Motorsport squad on the closest thing he has to a home WRC rally, while Sordo is in the #20 entry for the second string N team.

The VWs loom in fourth, fifth and sixth places - Andreas Mikkelsen and Jari-Matti Latvala ahead of Ogier. Unless his team-mates outscore him by substantial margins, Ogier is set to clinch his third consecutive WRC title this weekend. He is still within 11.8s of the lead.

While Sordo and Paddon are fighting for the lead, their Hyundai team-mate Thierry Neuville's disappointing form continues.

Complaining of a lack of confidence in the car, the Belgian is down in eighth place, 20s off the front.

M-Sport had a tough start too. Ott Tanak was in the top three initially, but is now in seventh after stalling on SS4, where his team-mate Elfyn Evans damaged a tyre and lost a minute nursing a puncture to the finish.

Citroen's stand-in driver Stephane Lefebvre holds ninth place in the injured Mads Ostberg's regular car.

LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS4:

-

shares
comments
FIA to develop rally safety action plan following recent accidents
Previous article

FIA to develop rally safety action plan following recent accidents

Next article

WRC Rally Australia: Jari-Matti Latvala takes lead from Kris Meeke

WRC Rally Australia: Jari-Matti Latvala takes lead from Kris Meeke
Why Monte Carlo success could spark another past master’s WRC revival Plus

Why Monte Carlo success could spark another past master’s WRC revival

Some 39 years on from his Monte Carlo Rally debut, World Rally Championship legend Francois Delecour continues to pick up silverware. Proving that age is purely a number, the 60-year-old's desire to compete against the WRC’s latest young talents could be the start of a new chapter in the Frenchman’s storied career

WRC
Jan 31, 2023
How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master Plus

How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master

He may only be contesting a part-time campaign in the World Rally Championship these days, but Sebastien Ogier underlined that he's lost none of his speed in the 2023 season opener. Storming to yet another victory on the Monte Carlo Rally, the eight-time world champion rewrote the history books again as Toyota served notice of its intentions with a crushing 1-2

WRC
Jan 23, 2023
How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling Plus

How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling

Audi should have been invincible in the snowy conditions that typically greeted the World Rally Championship paddock in Monte Carlo. But unexpectedly warm weather for the 1983 season opener, combined with some left-field thinking from the Lancia crew turned the tables. Forty years on, team boss Cesare Fiorio reflects on a smash and grab

WRC
Jan 21, 2023
Why M-Sport has pinned all its efforts on a WRC reunion Plus

Why M-Sport has pinned all its efforts on a WRC reunion

M-Sport had a disastrous 2022 with its Rally1 Ford Pumas following Sebastien Loeb’s first-time-out win on the Monte. But now things are looking up with 2019 world champion Ott Tanak leading its attack, and the Cumbrian operation has optimism that it can challenge for a first title since Sebastien Ogier's departure at the end of 2018

WRC
Jan 19, 2023
The contenders seeking to take Rovanpera's WRC crown Plus

The contenders seeking to take Rovanpera's WRC crown

As Kalle Rovanpera begins his World Rally Championship title defence in Monte Carlo, the Finn knows he has a target on his back. But who is best placed to knock the Toyota ace off his perch?

WRC
Jan 19, 2023
Why Rovanpera is anticipating a fight to defend his WRC title Plus

Why Rovanpera is anticipating a fight to defend his WRC title

Question: what could be harder than becoming the youngest-ever World Rally champion? Answer: becoming the youngest-ever two-time World Rally champion. That's quite the challenge facing Toyota's Kalle Rovanpera in 2022, particularly against rejuvenated opposition in the second year of the WRC's hybrid regulations

WRC
Jan 18, 2023
From F1 to WRC: Why Hyundai's new boss could be an inspired signing Plus

From F1 to WRC: Why Hyundai's new boss could be an inspired signing

OPINION: New Hyundai WRC team boss Cyril Abiteboul admits he’s got a lot to learn as he leads the marque's efforts to dethrone Toyota. But could his Formula 1 experience and evident strengths mean he turns out to be an inspired choice?

WRC
Jan 18, 2023
The ultimate rally car project the WRC is glad COVID killed Plus

The ultimate rally car project the WRC is glad COVID killed

Toyota was unstoppable in the 2021 World Rally Championship, with an excellent 75% strike rate from 12 rallies. But in a scary proposition for its rivals, the Japanese marque had built a car for the final year of the previous regulations set which it believes was much faster and could feasibly have crushed the opposition completely. Here the story of its mothballed world-beater

WRC
Jan 1, 2023