Rally Australia: Latvala Leads After Day One

by Vince Pettit

Jari-Matti Latvala has topped the tables at the end of Day one at Rally Australia, just 2.2s ahead of Sebastien Ogier.

Mikko Hirvonen and Sebastien Loeb were hindered by the extremely dusty roads due to their early starting position, leaving it to drivers like Latvala and Ogier to get a better run.

Citroen Junior driver Ogier pulled back the some of the advantage that Latvala had pulled out on the full-length gravel stages as they headed on to the asphalt Tweed superspecial, closing in 5.2s on the leader.

“It’s been a good day, I could have been quicker [on gravel] because we chose to start with old tyres on the back for the superspecial.” Said Ogier.

Latvala was also happy “I’m quite satisfied with today,” he said. “For sure I want to help Mikko, but of course I enjoy the fact that it’s been going quite well today. I didn’t want to play tactics. It’s important now that we are first on the road and Mikko has a better position for tomorrow.”

Hirvonen is set to start day two from fifth place after “a terrible Thursday”.

Reigning world champion Loeb also struggled on the opening day finishing just 0.9s ahead of his championship rival Hirvonen.

“I’m doing my best, I was slower than Mikko all afternoon. We’ll have to see tomorrow. I didn’t have any grip at all today, which might have been due to the set-up. Also we had old tyres on the rear ready for the super-stage, and that might have cost us on these stages.” said Loeb.

Top 10 after day one:

Pos  Driver              Car      Time/Gap
 1.  Jari-Matti Latvala  Ford     53m21.4s
 2.  Sebastien Ogier     Citroen  +   2.2s
 3.  Sebastien Loeb      Citroen  +  22.7s
 4.  Dani Sordo          Citroen  +  22.8s
 5.  Mikko Hirvonen      Ford     +  23.6s
 6.  Henning Solberg     Ford     +  51.3s
 7.  Matthew Wilson      Ford     +1m42.4s
 8.  Federico Villagra   Ford     +2m04.6s
 9.  Conrad Rautenbach   Citroen  +2m27.5s
10.  Richard Mason       Subaru   +4m16.3s

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