Ott Tanak has powered into the lead of Rally Australia and takes a 21.9-second advantage over teammate Jari-Matti Latvala into tomorrow’s final and championship-deciding day of the FIA World Rally Championship. With its potential points haul, Toyota is also looking good to secure the Manufacturers’ title. Hayden Paddon has climbed into third and is just 4.4 seconds behind Latvala, and while Sebastien Ogier is down in sixth position, the Frenchman is currently in control of the fight for the drivers’ title.
This afternoon’s repeated loop of stages was certainly no easier than the morning’s, but Tanak’s charge remained undiminished and the Estonian powered ahead of Latvala in the second stage to take the lead he needs to have any hope of the title. He remains focused on his own performance and with another stage win in the last of the loop of four stages headed into the closing super special stages with a 9.7-second lead.
Rain then fell for some of the contenders; Tanak took one of the super special wins and overnights with a comfortable lead. Unlike his teammate, Latvala only took one spare wheel, preferring the balance of the car with less weight, but the Finn regretted the decision when his tires started to go off in the third stage. He only has a 4.4-second advantage over Paddon, who climbed the order during the afternoon stages. The New Zealander won the first stage and managed to overhaul Mads Ostberg for third in SS15, the Norwegian having a difficult afternoon with the balance of the car.
Esapekka Lappi is fifth and the Finn set one fastest time during the afternoon to close to within 3.8 seconds of Ostberg. Ogier is holding station in sixth, nearly a minute adrift of Lappi but with a cushion behind in the form of teammate Elfyn Evans. The Frenchman remains the title favorite with six stages remaining on Sunday.
Thierry Neuville climbed a position to eighth, overhauling Teemu Suninen despite a difficult afternoon essentially still sweeping the roads at the front of the field. He won the last super special stage. Craig Breen rounds out the top 10, the Irish driver spinning in SS14 and losing 13 seconds.
Alberto Heller continues to dominate the FIA WRC 2 Championship and the Chilean has more than 10 minutes in hand to second-placed Armin Kremer, with Gianluca Linari third. After returning under Rally 2 regulations, Enrico Brazzoli continues his WRC 3 drive to the finish.
Rally Australia – Unofficial results after Section 6
|1||Ott Tanak / Martin Jarveoja||Toyota Yaris WRC||2hr 07min 52.0sec|
|2||Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila||Toyota Yaris WRC||2hr 08min 13.9sec|
|3||Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshall||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||2hr 08min 18.3sec|
|4||Mads Ostberg / Torstein Eriksen||Citroen C3 WRC||2hr 08min 38.6sec|
|5||Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm||Toyota Yaris WRC||2hr 08min 42.4sec|
|6||Sebastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia||Ford Fiesta WRC||2hr 09min 36.8sec|
|7||Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt||Ford Fiesta WRC||2hr 09min 56.6sec|
|8||Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||2hr 10min 27.2sec|
|9||Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula||Ford Fiesta WRC||2hr 10min 41.0sec|
|10||Craig Breen / Scott Martin||Citroen C3 WRC||2hr 14min 18.8sec|