WRC Rally Australia: Neuville into lead as Mikkelsen forced out

Thierry Neuville leads the final round of the World Rally Championship season in Australia after his Hyundai team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen crashed on the second stage of the Saturday morning loop

WRC Rally Australia: Neuville into lead as Mikkelsen forced out

Mikkelsen, who was the overnight leader in only his third rally for the team, ran wide into a bank just over a mile onto the Newry stage.

His i20 picked up a double puncture, but he carried just one spare tyre, meaning he was unable to continue in the rally.

"It's devastating, but what can you do?" Mikkelsen said.

"We are trying to push as hard as we can, sometimes you get away with it, but not today.

"With our tyre choice, we didn't consider two spares. We were saving our tyres for later."

The fast-charging Jari-Matti Latvala moved into second place for Toyota, just 6.3 seconds behind leader Neuville, after topping Newry.

Neuville won the longest stage of the rally - Nambucca - but missed a junction on Newry and reported gearbox issues at the end of the stage as a result of his trip off the road. Hyundai is now changing the gearbox in the lunchtime service.

Kris Meeke currently completes the top three, despite missing the same junction as Neuville and five-time champion Sebastien Ogier.

Ogier was 20.6s off the leading time on Nambucca and a further 28.9s on Newry. He ended the morning in seventh place, just over 15s adrift of Hayden Paddon.

Ogier's M-Sport team-mate Ott Tanak sits in fourth ahead of Rally Australia debutant Craig Breen, who is in an impressive fifth position in his Citroen C3.

Stephane Lefebvre is eighth in the third Citroen. He spun and stalled on Newry but did enough to keep Rally GB winner Elfyn Evans at bay. The Welshman labelled the grip in the morning as "horrendously bad" on his DMACKs.

Evans sits ninth in the overall classification with Esapekka Lappi rounding out the top 10.

Leading positions after SS11

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 1h38m40.2s
2 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC Toyota 6.3s
3 Kris Meeke, P.Nagle Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 22.0s
4 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 26.8s
5 Craig Breen, S.Martin Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 45.8s
6 Hayden Paddon, S.Marshall Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 54.6s
7 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 1m08.9s
8 Stephane Lefebvre, G.Moreau Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 2m11.3s
9 Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 2m28.9s
10 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC Toyota 3m39.7s


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