Monday 20 November 2017

Rally - WRC Down Under

After the highs and lows of Wales Rally GB came the lows and fewer highs  of the Kennards Hire Rally Australia. The Brits didn't fare quite so well this time with the Hyundai squad getting two cars into the top three and Thierry Neuville clinching his fourth victory of the season.

One might have thought that heavy rain and muddy conditions would have favoured the Brits, but this rain was warm, a most unsettling experience for those raised on the British and Irish variety.

Andreas Mikkelsen initially led the charge winning five of the six dry and dusty opening tests on Friday ahead of Neuville and Meeke, but a double puncture on Day 2 after hitting a bank with his Hyundai scuppered Mikkelsen's chances.
Day 2 accounted for Meeke's podium hopes too: "After a fast bend, there was a narrow bridge and we just touched it with the rear wheel. A few kilometres later, I felt that something wasn't right. We stopped after the time control to try and repair the suspension. I wanted to keep going, but the team asked me to stop. It's frustrating because in the end, the final long stage of the loop was cancelled. We've missed out on a good result."

Running on DMACK Tyres, Elfyn Evans knew he would struggle if the sandy Australian stages remained dry. And so it proved but as torrential rain battered the final day’s stages, Evans put in a number of competitive times including the fastest time through Pilbara Reverse (SS17) – securing fifth place and his best ever result at Rally Australia.

“We knew that we would struggle this weekend, but with the rain today we had an opportunity to use the soft tyre," said Elfyn, "It was a more enjoyable day for sure and it was nice to secure a stage win. It was unfortunate that we encountered a few little niggles after that, but all in all not a bad way to finish off the weekend. The season as a whole has been amazing for the team. We’ve worked with some great people this year who really deserve this success – a big thanks to all of them.”
Jari-Matti Latvala had been in contention for victory on the final day, but his Toyota crashed out on the final live TV Power Stages while Ott Tänak just lost out by 22.5sec and had to settle for second.
Meeke's team mate also lost out, Craig Breen rolling his Citroën C3 into retirement when on course for his best result of the season, while Sébastien Ogier had to settle for fourth when gearshift problems blighted his Fiesta and a timing error added to his woes with a 60sec penalty.

Leading positions: 
1. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:35:44.8
2. Tänak / Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +22.5
3. Paddon / Marshall (Hyundai i20 WRC) +59.1
4. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:27.7
5. Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:05.6
6. Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3:49.5
7. Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) +22:58.4

1. Sébastien Ogier - 232 points
2. Thierry Neuville - 210 points
3. Ott Tänak - 189 points
4. Jari-Matti Latvala - 136 points
5. Elfyn Evans - 128 points
6. Dani Sordo - 95 points
7. Kris Meeke - 77 points
8. Hayden Paddon - 74 points
9. Juho Hänninen - 71 points
10. Craig Breen - 64 points

1. M-Sport WRT - 428 points
2. Hyundai Motorsport - 345 points
3. Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT - 254 points
4. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT - 222 points

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