After Friday, Day 2 of Rally Australia, its no surpise that its VW’s Sebastien Ogier holds the lead by 20 seconds over Mikko Hirvonen. So far this rally Volkswagen have won all stages of the rally with their 3 Drivers, proving the pace and speed of the Polo R above the Fiesta & the DS3 on the Aussie Gravel.
At the end of the Day Ogier said, ” The day was perfect. I’m quite happy, we had a really good start. It wasn’t the longest day of the rally though, there is still a lot to do.”
Previous Rally Australia winner Mikko Hirvonen holds 2nd place with M-Sports Neuville in 3rd and Kris Meeke in 4th.
Here is what the Citroen drivers had to say after Day 2
Kris Meeke: “I tried to make the most of running in tenth position on the road…this was my first day with this kind of set-up. It was fantastic to drive, although I still feel like I’m learning about the car. I didn’t take any risks, but that didn’t prevent me from hitting a massive stone that was pulled out in the middle of the road on SS5. I thought I had broken the steering, but thankfully it’s a strong car and I’m still here!”
Meeke dropped to fourth after the Coffs super special stage: “I stalled at the start and that cost me ten seconds or so. It’s a shame, but I’m only five tenths off third place and it shouldn’t detract from what has been a very positive day. I found the second loop more difficult than the first loop, because the grip levels had changed quite a lot. In certain sections, there was a kind of powder on the surface that meant the road was very slippery. Despite my lack of experience, I’m not far behind Mikko and that’s good news for the team.”
Mikko Hirvonen is second: “I’m pleased with today, although the leader has built up a gap a little bit quicker than I thought he would. We’ll have to push hard tomorrow. More generally, it’s good for the team that both cars are proving to be competitive. Kris did a very good job today and we have the potential to secure an excellent overall result this weekend.”
Khalid Al-Qassimi is tenth after a tough day: “I think we could have done better…but to do that, first of all, I would have needed to use the right-hand pedal a little bit more! I also think that we can do more work on the set-up of the car, so that I feel more confident.”
Thierry Neuville (third): “It almost feels like we have been driving completely different stages this afternoon! My usual feeling and confidence with the car is certainly back. We worked hard to amend the pacenotes during midday service, but I think that maybe I was just struggling to get back into the rhythm of gravel driving this morning.”
“Now, I feel much better and the handling of the car is great. I really enjoyed this afternoon’s stages. The times were quick, yes, but we were not pushing and not taking any big risks. My aim is to finish the rally – for experience, but also to increase my second place in the championship.”
Mads Østberg is sixth overall: “I think the driving has been good this afternoon, but for some reason the times just aren’t coming. I have no answer as to why they are not. The car felt OK. The only thing I’m not 100 per cent confident with is turning into the high speeds corners – but there have not been a lot of those out there today. It’s a strange one for sure.”
“The pacenotes were certainly a lot better, but on SS8 we hit a huge rock. It was so big that the impact opened the [driver’s] door. There was no way of avoiding it. It was in the middle of the line going into a right-hand corner and we hit it side-on. We were very lucky to get away with that one!”
Evgeny Novikov is eighth: “We changed the set-up of the car in service which was OK, but I didn’t like the balance. I think we will go back to the original set-up for tomorrow – this one wasn’t necessarily worse, but I preferred the handling this morning.”
“There was some dust on the second loop – sometimes it settled and sometimes it was blown away much quicker so it was not the same for everyone. The first two stages [SS6 and SS7] had much better grip levels, but on the last stage [SS8] especially it was much slipperier than it had been this morning.”
“We have a long day tomorrow with two long stages, so I think we just need to continue managing our pace and see what happens.”