Rallying: Ogier has one hand on world title
Frenchman Sebastien Ogier has one hand on the World Rally Championship title after grabbing a narrow lead over Northern Irishman Kris Meeke on the second day of Rally Australia Saturday.
Ogier, driving a Volkswagen Polo, heads into Sunday’s final five stages with a 0.3 second lead over Meeke, who led the rally until the final night stage.
Overnight leader Jari-Matti Latvala faded to third place, 2.6 seconds behind his French teammate with his hopes of winning the 2015 title now hanging by a thread.
Ogier has a commanding lead over Latvala and only needs to finish in front of the Finn to take his third consecutive world title.
In a thrilling race around the New South Wales town of Coffs Harbour the top four drivers are separated by less than 10 seconds, with fourth placed Andreas Mikkelsen of Norway 9.1 seconds off the leading time.
Meeke seized the lead in his Citroen after consistent performances on the first two stages, both won by New Zealander Hayden Paddon, who is in fifth placed overall, 19.1 seconds behind the leader.
Latvala slipped from the lead after he admitted to being too cautious on the opening stages.
Ogier began to show his dominance as he won the third stage to close to within 2.6 seconds of Meeke.
He then drove superbly to overtake Meeke on the final stage and put himself in prime position to take his third Rally Australia title in as many years.
Ogier said the lingering dust was a problem on the final stage.
I was worried about the dust near the beginning but it was okay,” he said.
Not a good stage for me though — still a lot of dust on the road.
I expected it would be cleaner. I didn’t find the optimal rhythm so I was not flat out.”