WRC Rally Australia: Tanak leads, but Ogier controlling title fight

Ott Tanak leads Rally Australia following Saturday afternoon's loop, while Sebastien Ogier will go into the final day of the World Rally Championship season in control of the title fight

WRC Rally Australia: Tanak leads, but Ogier controlling title fight

Toyota did not need to enforce any team orders between morning leader Jari-Matti Latvala and title contender Tanak, the Estonian overhauling the Finn with superior pace.

After he and Latvala set identical times on the first stage of the afternoon loop, Tanak burst into a 0.8-second lead with a stunning run through the Welshs Creek Reverse test that gapped the field by four seconds.

Tanak then stretched his advantage over Latvala, who took one spare tyre to Tanak's two, to 7.4s on the second pass through Urunga, and topped the short burst around Raleigh Raceway to end the loop 9.7s clear ahead of Saturday evening's superspecial stage.

While Tanak may have the lead of the rally, Ogier is still in control of the title fight.

The Frenchman held station in sixth overall throughout the afternoon loop, which would give him enough points to seal a sixth crown even if Tanak wins the rally and tomorrow's Powerstage.

He faces little threat from behind, too, with M-Sport stablemate Elfyn Evans 26s back in seventh.

Thierry Neuville, now the rank outsider of the three contenders, ended the loop sitting eighth, making up one spot on a long afternoon of sweeping the roads.

The Hyundai driver jumped Teemu Suninen on the Welshs Creek Reverse stage to move into eighth, but is still 32s behind Evans and almost a minute behind Ogier.

Hayden Paddon sits third after the afternoon loop, closing in on Mads Ostberg through Argents Hill Reverse - which he topped - and Welshs Creek Reverse before pulling away when the Citroen driver struggled on the Urunga test.

Paddon now holds a 14s advantage over Citroen driver Ostberg, who was perplexed by his lack of pace on the final forest stage.

"The balance was not so nice, it was about surviving," he said.

"The conditions are so tricky, I can't even understand what I just went through. I don't know what to say."

Esapekka Lappi, who topped the Urunga stage, is 11s behind Ostberg in fifth and 55s clear of Ogier.

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About this article

Series WRC
Drivers Sébastien Ogier , Ott Tanak
Author Andrew van Leeuwen
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