Rivals wheely flying in chase for rally crown
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