WRC Rally Australia: Sebastien Ogier takes lead from Kris Meeke

Sebastien Ogier moved one step closer to clinching his third World Rally Championship title by snatching the Rally Australia lead away from Kris Meeke on Saturday's final stage

WRC Rally Australia: Sebastien Ogier takes lead from Kris Meeke

Meeke held onto his Saturday morning lead through the opening stage of the afternoon loop, the second run of the 31.5-mile Nambucca.

He did however lose 1.5s to Ogier, who topped Nambucca and brought the lead gap down to just 2.4s heading into the short Valla stage.

With the final stage being held at night visibility was poor, so cars set off at five minute intervals.

This didn't help a great deal though as hanging dust affected the middle of the stage, giving the advantage to the early runners.

That allowed Ogier to capitalise on his road position behind Citroen reserve driver Stephane Lefebvre, the only Rally2 runner. He flew through the closing stage 2.7s up on Meeke to take a 0.3s lead into Sunday.

Meeke was visibly angry at the stage end and refused to make any comment as to why he struggled through Valla.

To add to his frustration Ogier's Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala closed in on him by 2s, after Meeke had extended the gap through Nambucca.

The Finn finished the day comfortably in third as team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen lost time a significant amount of time on the closing stage.

At the stage end Mikkelsen complained of visibility problems, claiming that his lights were too low.

Hyundai's Hayden Paddon was therefore able to close the gap to the Norwegian to just 10.3s.

Paddon, who set the pace on both of the morning stages, will still be looking over his shoulder at Ott Tanak. The M-Sport Ford had edged closer after Nambucca, but fell back to 19.7s adrift of Paddon in fifth.

Hyundai duo Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo swapped places on the final stage, despite Neuville claiming Valla was "dangerous and stupid" given the visibility concerns.

He was still able to overhaul his team-mate by a considerable margin to end the day 6.3s up in seventh.

M-Sport's Elfyn Evans remained ninth but slipped further back after he had a big moment through Valla, where he was 23.2s off the pace set by Ogier.

WRC2 leader Nasser Al-Attiyah completed the top 10 and maintained his lead over Yurii Protasov by 14.2s.

LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS12:

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WRC Rally Australia: Meeke retakes lead from Latvala
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