Mikkelsen leads Ogier in Rally Aus­tralia

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

COFFS HAR­BOUR: Nor­way’s An­dreas Mikkelsen, chas­ing sec­ond place in this sea­son’s FIA World Rally Cham­pi­onship, led yes­ter­day af­ter win­ning five of the open­ing day spe­cial stages in the Rally Aus­tralia.

The young Volk­swa­gen star held a 15.4 sec­ond ad­van­tage af­ter 11 spe­cial stages south of Coffs Har­bour, in New South Wales. Mikkelsen is in a strong po­si­tion to chal­lenge sec­ond-place Bel­gian driver Thierry Neuville in the cham­pi­onship stand­ings ahead of Sun­day’s fin­ish. Newly-crowned four­time cham­pion Se­bastien Ogier fin­ished sec­ond, with three spe­cial stage wins, with Neuville in third place. “We had a good morn­ing and a good run, al­though it is very loose so I ex­pected to lose more time,” Mikkelsen said.

“I think we are do­ing a re­ally good job be­ing third on the road so we will have to keep to this. “We have to push if we want the win and so far it is look­ing good. The car is re­ally per­fect and I am feel­ing very com­fort­able in there.” Ogier won the fi­nal two stages on the faster sur­faces and was sat­is­fied with his sec­ond po­si­tion.

“Our po­si­tion does not re­flect the strug­gle we had this morn­ing and I think maybe others are not mak­ing the best of their ad­van­tage be­ing be­hind us,” Ogier said.

“It’s cer­tainly bet­ter than I ex­pected, but it is a strug­gle to clean the roads and I think it will be dif­fi­cult to keep this po­si­tion.” Un­der WRC rules, Ogier will start first again on fresh stages Sat­ur­day, but Sun­day’s run­ning or­der will be set on Sat­ur­day’s re­sults.

Stand­ings af­ter Fri­day’s spe­cial stages:

1. An­dreas Mikkelsen-An­ders Jaeger (NOR/VW Polo-R) 57 min­utes 16.7 sec­onds,

2. Se­bastien Ogier-Julien In­gras­sia (FRA/VW Polo-R) at 15.4, 3. Thierry Neuville-Ni­co­las Gil­soul (BEL/Hyundai i20) 22.5, 4. Hay­den Pad­don-John Ken­nard (NZL/Hyundai i20) 23.7, 5. Mads Ost­bergOla Floene (NOR/Ford Fi­esta RS) 38.8, 6. Eric Camil­liBen­jamin Veil­las (FRA/Ford Fi­esta RS 46.6, 7. Dani Sordo-Marc Marti (ESP/Hyundai i20) 50.2, 8. Ott Tanak-Raigo Molder(EST/Ford Fi­esta RS 1:30.6, 9. Es­apekka Lappi-Janne Ferm (FIN/Skoda Fabia R5) 2:20.3, 10. Lorenzo Bertelli-Si­mone Scat­tolin (ITA/Ford Fi­esta RS) 2:24.7

Stage win­ners

Mikkelsen 5 (SS1, SS3, SS4, SS5, SS6, Ogier 3 (SS8, SS9, SS10, Neuville 1 (SS7), Pad­don 1 (SS2), Lappi (SS11) .

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