SS12: Meeke back in podium place
Kris Meeke ousted Andreas Mikkelsen from third as their fight for the final podium place at Coates Hire Rally Australia continued unabated through the last country stage of today’s second leg.
A Mikkelsen error allowed Meeke to set a time 1.5sec faster through the second pass of the 8.96km Vella stage. The Citroen DS3 driver heads into tonight’s last two short stadium tests in Coffs Harbour with a 1.3sec advantage.
“I came too fast into a right bend. I had to save the car and lost my speed for the next straight, which was a long one. I lost 2-3sec,” Mikkelsen admitted.
However, Meeke was concerned that, like yesterday, he might lose position through tonight’s stages. “The Volkswagens are immense in those stages. They took seven seconds from me in only 3kms yesterday, but I’m happy with my speed,” he said.
Sébastien Ogier was fastest by 1.0sec from team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala to extend his advantage to 10.3sec, and the Finn paid tribute to his colleague’s pace.
“Seb is driving really well. We had a good stage with the soft tyres and I wouldn’t have been able to go faster on harder tyres,” he said.
Robert Kubica dropped more than a minute after crashing in a bizarre incident. “I was distracted by a yellow flag test (safety system). I saw it flashing in the car when braking for a crest and we crashed,” said Kubica, whose Ford Fiesta RS sported damage on the left at the front and rear.
Thierry Neuville finished with the front bumper missing and a damaged bonnet in his Hyundai i20. “I pushed hard and lost the rear in a corner. I hit a pole, or a mail post and pulled that down,” said the Belgian.
Despite that he moved ahead of Kubica into eighth, the Pole also slipping behind Elfyn Evans into 10th.
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