COFFS COAST (NSW) – Ott Tänak completed a dynamic second day at Kennards Hire Rally Australia with a Destination NSW Super Special Stage win at a thrilling FIA World Rally Championship finale on the New South Wales Coffs Coast tonight.
Toyota Gazoo Racing driver Tänak claimed his seventh stage win of the event in the 1.27km sprint around the first run of the Super Special on the Coffs harbourfront and increased his outright lead heading into the rally’s final day.
Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville managed to win the repeat tour of the stage before an unfortunately-timed heavy downpour destroyed the hopes of many drivers.
Tänak led a handful of frontline drivers to beat the rain on their first run, but his teammate Jari-Matti Latvala was caught out and dropped more than 10 seconds.
Tänak ended an eventful day with a 21.9s lead over Latvala, extending the margin by more than 12s from the daytime stages.
Tänak and several other outright contenders were forced to negotiate a perilously slippery final pass through the stage.
New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon had a dry run at the first attempt before his repeat charge was spoiled by the slippy conditions.
Paddon remains third outright, 26.3 seconds behind Tänak, while Citroën’s Mads Østberg is 46.6 seconds back in fourth.
Championship favourite Sébastien Ogier remains sixth behind Toyota’s Esapekka Lappi with Neuville well down in eighth position.
Rally Australia reaches its dramatic conclusion tomorrow with six special stages totalling 83.96km, including the Wedding Bells Power Stage that could ultimately decide the event winner and the 2018 world champion.
TOP 10 AFTER SS18:
1 Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja (Toyota) 2:07:52.0s
2 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota) +21.9s
3 Hayden Paddon/Sebastian Marshall (Hyundai) +26.3s
4 Mads Ostberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroen) +46.6s
5 Esapekka Lappi/ Janne Ferm (Toyota) +50.4s
6 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (M-Sport Ford) +01:44.8s
7 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (M-Sport Ford) +02:04.6s
8 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai) +02:35.2s
9 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (M-Sport Ford) +02:49.0s
10 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen) +06:26.8s
If fans of the CAMS Australian Rally Championship thought the fight for this year’s title couldn’t get any more dramatic than Friday’s opening day, today proved them wrong.
At various stages throughout the day all three contenders – Eli Evans, Steve Glenney and Harry Bates – looked like they should be the favourite to take the crown.
Bates went to the lunch interval in control but by the end of the Destination NSW Super Special Stages at Coffs Harbour’s Jetty Foreshores tonight it was Steve Glenney with the overall lead as well as 20 championship points for Saturday’s leg win.
After breaking the radiator on his Skoda Fabia R5 on Friday, Evans returned to the fray and finished second-best for the day to pick up some valuable points to add to his pre-event lead.
Bates lost the lead when his Toyota Yaris AP4 stopped on SS14 with a mechanical problem and was retired for the day. It was not known whether Bates would rejoin the competition for the final day.
Tickets to Rally Australia are available at these locations:
• Gate entry to daytime spectator points
• Pedders Rally Central Service Park
• Rally Souvenir Shop, Coffs Central shopping centre, Harbour Drive
• Ticketek, Information Desk Coffs Central shopping centre, Harbour Drive
Entry to the daytime special stages is free for spectators aged under 18. Full details including times, maps and driving directions for all spectator points are available at the website www.rallyaustralia.com.au, under SPECTATORS.
Kennards Hire Rally Australia is supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW.