Neuville quickest in Australia shakedown
Hyundai ace recovers after engine glitch
Thierry Neuville overcame an early technical problem to set fastest time in Thursday’s shakedown at Kennards Hire Rally Australia.
The Belgian spent much of the morning session parked in the Hyundai service area, while his team investigated an engine oil leak that stopped his i20 before it had even reached the stage.
The problem was traced to a crank trigger component, and once this was fixed, Neuville squeezed in three runs of the 5.02km Boyds Road test, claiming a best time of 2m56.3s on the final pass.
Ford Fiesta driver Elfyn Evans and Stéphane Lefebvre in Citroën’s C3 tied second quickest, five-tenths behind Neuville.
In hot, dry and sunny conditions, Ott Tänak set the pace through the opening run, recording a 3m00.5s in his Fiesta, before Kris Meeke powered his C3 to the top of the standings after the second pass.
But both times were eclipsed as the road cleaned and a deep layer of loose gravel was swept from the surface.
Jari-Matti Latvala claimed the fourth fastest time in his fourth and final run. Meeke ended fifth while Tänak and Craig Breen tied sixth.
Esapekka Lappi, Andreas Mikkelsen and New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon completed the top ten times.
Leading Shakedown times
1 Neuville Hyundai i20 2m56.3s
=2 Evans Ford Fiesta +0.5s
=2 Lefebvre Citroen C3 +0.5s
4 Latvala Toyota Yaris +0.8s
5 Meeke Citroen C3 +0.9
=6 Tanak Ford Fiesta +1.4s
=6 Breen Citroen C3 +1.4s
=8 Lappi Toyota Yaris +1.6s
=8 Mikkelsen Hyundai i20 +1.6s
10 Paddon Hyundai i20 +2.3s
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