Ri­vals wheely fly­ing in chase for rally crown

The Weekend Post - - Sport -

JAMES PHELPS THIERRY Neuville is de­ter­mined to steal Se­bas­tian Ogier’s World Rally Cham­pi­onship crown de­spite trail­ing the French­man af­ter the open­ing stages of the Aus­tralian Rally yes­ter­day.

In what is shap­ing a oneon-one fight for the world ti­tle at the sea­son-end­ing event in Coffs Har­bour this week­end, Neuville is out to stop leader Ogier from claim­ing an amaz­ing sixth ti­tle.

Trail­ing Ogier by just eight points in the ti­tle race, the Bel­gium driver fin­ished the first six stages of the open­ing day just 11 sec­onds be­hind his ri­val.

“It is go­ing to be an in­ter­est­ing week­end,’’ Neuville said.

“I am out to catch the leader and we will have to wait and see how it goes. But yes I am (con­fi­dent).’’

Ogier took a shot at the Bel­gian ear­lier this week, claim­ing the pres­sure of break­ing through to win his first crown may ruin the Hyundai driver’s shot.

Neuville claimed he was not feel­ing any pres­sure fol­low­ing the first day of the three-day event that cov­ers 318km of the Coffs Coast in North­ern NSW.

“No I am not feel­ing the (men­tal) pres­sure,’’ Neuville said. “Maybe on Sun­day there will be more pres­sure but for now I am good.’’

Trail­ing Ogier could prove an ad­van­tage with Neuville set to go out first over the fi­nal two days and play the dreaded role of ‘track sweeper’.

Neuville is hop­ing pre­dicted rain will stay away so his ad­van­tage is pre­served.

“It could be (an ad­van­tage),’’ Neuville said. “If it is dry it cer­tainly will be but if it rains it will be a bit dif­fer­ent.’’

UP IN THE AIR: Ford driver Se­bastien Ogier of France speeds over a brow on the first day of the World Rally Cham­pi­onship (WRC) Rally Aus­tralia near Coffs Har­bour. Pic­ture: AFP

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