Tänak holds Rally Australia lead as Ogier holds on to championship advantage

by Vince Pettit

Ott Tänak is doing everything he can to win his first FIA World Rally Championship title as he leads the 2018 Rally Australia on the second day.

With an outside chance of winning the title, Tänak needs to win the rally and claim maximum points on Sunday’s Power Stage to be in with a shot of surpassing Sébastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville.

At the end of the second day Tänak held a 21.9 second advantage as he led a Toyota one-two with team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala holding on to second place.

Reigning champion Ogier is in sixth place, and remains favourite to secure his sixth consecutive championship title as he holds advantage over his main title rival Neuville, who ended the day in ninth place as he struggled with road conditions.

Once again the early runners were left to sweep the roads, after the dry weather meant a thick gravel layer slowed the front runners down as they cleared the way.

Tänak was on impressive form as he won six out of ten stages, reducing and passing Mads Østberg who started the day with a 16.9 second advantage.

Credit: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Poo1

“Today was back to a normal day in the office, yesterday there were too many issues. I know Seb well, he’s a smart guy, but we’ll target our job and you never know what can happen,” he said.

Latvala showed good form in the early part of the day and was leading the rally at the mid-day service. Hayden Paddon climbed up to third by the end of the day as he surpassed Østberg who struggled with the balance of his Citroën C3 all afternoon.

Esapekka Lappi held on to fifth place ahead of Ogier and his M-Sport team-mate Elfyn Evans, who was doing his best to keep Neuville at bay.

The Belgian suffered with damaged suspension after a brush with a bank, regardless he pushed to keep his title hopes alive. He ended the day more than 50 seconds behind Ogier.

In WRC2 Alberto Heller holds on to the lead by 11 minutes in his Ford Fiesta R5 ahead of Gianluca Linari in his Subaru Impreza STi N15 and Armin Kremer in his Škoda Fabia R5.

Leading positions:
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 2hr 07min 52.0sec
2. J-M Latvala / M Anttila FIN Toyota Yaris + 21.9sec
3. H Paddon / S Marshall NZL Hyundai i20 + 26.3sec
4. M Østberg / T Eriksen NOR Citroën C3 + 46.6sec
5. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Toyota Yaris + 50.4sec
6. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Ford Fiesta + 1min 44.8sec

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