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

Jari-Matti Latvala took the Rally Australia lead from Kris Meeke on Friday's final stage, with Sebastien Ogier also closing in on the leaders and a third World Rally Championship title

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

Latvala - who needs to outscore Ogier by 10 points this weekend to delay his Volkswagen team-mate's 2015 WRC coronation - reeled off fastest times on the afternoon loop's first three stages to move up from fifth to second.

Citroen driver Meeke still looked like he had enough in hand to hang onto the overnight lead.

But after profiting from a cleaner surface on the previous three stages, the drivers further down the starting order found themselves struggling for visibility as dust hung in the air under the trees on the 18.3-mile Newry Long closer.

Meeke lost 6.5 seconds to Latvala on that stage and fell to second overall in the process, 2s behind the VW.

He is now just 2.6s ahead of Ogier as well. The champion had been as low as eighth in the morning and felt this was the toughest rally to be first on the road all season.

But he minimised the time loss on the first three stages and then blitzed Newry Long, where he beat Latvala by 4.7s and Meeke by 11.2s to bring himself right into lead contention.

Latvala was not too concerned by his team-mate's burst of pace, saying he had anticipated that Newry Long would be Ogier's strongest stage so used the best of his tyres on the previous three where his team-mate was disadvantaged.

After running one-two for most of the morning, the Hyundais of Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon have slipped back to fifth and sixth behind Andreas Mikkelsen in the third VW.

Sordo joined Meeke in bemoaning the lack of visibility on Newry Long, while Paddon ended the afternoon convinced something was broken on his i20 as he struggled with strange handling.

Their team-mate Thierry Neuville is up to seventh ahead of Ott Tanak after a spin on the Bakers Creek stage for the M-Sport Ford and then handling dramas Tanak felt might be a sign of differential problems.

Citroen substitute Stephane Lefebvre was running ninth until breaking his suspension on a rock on Newry Long, which will mean he saves Ogier the pain of running first on the road on Saturday.

Elfyn Evans, delayed by a morning puncture and day-long discomfort with his car, and Lorenzo Bertelli complete the opening day top 10, with Nasser Al-Attiyah leading WRC2.

LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS8:

-

shares
comments
WRC Rally Australia: Citroen's Kris Meeke leads Hyundais
Previous article

WRC Rally Australia: Citroen's Kris Meeke leads Hyundais

Next article

WRC Rally Australia: Meeke retakes lead from Latvala

WRC Rally Australia: Meeke retakes lead from Latvala
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