Andreas Mikkelsen has a 2 seconds lead before the final day of Rally Australia. Second in the standings is his VW teammate Sebastien Ogier. The places from third to fifth are taken by the Hyundai crews – Hayden Paddon passed Thierry Neuville while Dani Sordo is right behind them.
“Sunday will be really interesting, although I could live with a little less tension. We had a great day today, we were always fast and we managed to stay ahead pretty well. We lost some time later on, as some damage to the footwell meant that the clutch and brake pedals were overlapping. That was a strange situation. It doesn’t change much about the grand finale tomorrow. Whether we lead by two seconds or twelve and more, it will be a tough battle for the victory, and we would be happy to win it. We have to give our all until the finish line – and that is exactly what we intend to do.”
“That was a perfect day for us. Julien and I decided to take the risk and go for it. I used the boundary markers along the track like a slalom skier, as you can tell from the dents on the bonnet. We put all our eggs in one basket with our tyre selection as well. Luckily, choosing four soft tyres paid off. Before the rally, I would not have expected us to still have such a good chance in the battle for the win. Tomorrow will be a thrilling day for the fans. Andreas and Hayden will give their all to claim the win, and I also have nothing to lose.”
Paddon took their second stage win of the Rally Australia weekend in the first run through Nambucca
With just 12 seconds separating him from Mikkelsen, it’s all to play for on the final morning.
Paddon said: “It’s been a good day. We started well with the stage win through Nambucca, which set a positive tone. There was a lot of dust coming into the car on those first stages. It was a bit of a distraction, but you have to expect that in Rally Australia. We knew that Seb would be on a charge in the afternoon, which proved to be the case. So we just focused on keeping up the pressure. We missed a bit of speed in the afternoon loop but all in all it’s been a good improvement over last year. We’re involved in a close fight up front. It’s a good position to be in and we’ll certainly be giving it a hard push tomorrow to see what we can do.”
Neuville kept his Championship aspirations alive on the penultimate day
Neuville said: “It’s been close to a perfect day for us considering the conditions. We made a wrong tyre choice this morning, which lost us some ground in the battle for third place. I was concerned the soft tyres would be too soft for the conditions. In hindsight, we should have perhaps taken the risk but that’s easier said than done when we’re trying to secure second in the Championship. The afternoon was better and I felt I drove well. We had to manage the tyres carefully but I was pretty pleased to set the fastest time in SS16, when conditions were more equal for everybody. We’re still firmly in the podium fight and we definitely won’t give up until the rally is over.”