Two front runners crashed out in saturday’s action of Rally Australia, the final WRC event. The then rally leader, Andreas Mikkelsen clipped a bank too fast at SS10, damaged two of his left tyres and was forced to retire as he was carrying only one spare wheel in his Hyundai i20 WRC. However this became a boon to his team-mate Thierry Neuville who was right under his tail, took advantage and was automatically promoted to no.1 spot.
“It’s devastating, but what can you do? We are trying to push as hard as we can, sometimes you get away with it, but not today. With our tyre choice we didn’t consider two spares. We were saving our tyres for later.”
In a similar style to the Norwegian, Brit driver, Kris Meeke clipped a bridge in SS12 and suffered a critical suspension failure few kilometers after the incident. However, he was able to limp out of the stage and tried hard to repair, but luck was not on his side too and had to call it a day.
“Unfortunately we glanced a small bridge with the right rear.. initially I wasn’t aware of any problem and was able to continue at full speed. But 5km from the end of the stage a part broke on the rear suspension. The team asked us to retire for the day.”
Meeke’s retirement meant, Ott Tanak who was pushing hard in the down order was able to secure the third place and retained it till the end of the day. Jari-Matti Latvala so far had a incident free rally and sits comfortably at position no.2 for the rally. World Champ Sebastien Ogier had his share of scares this rally, and was seen with a missing front bumper, and sits at a giant gap (by his standards) with over 1m47s to the rally leader, and says
“It’s hard to find any positives today, but we are here and it’s part of life. Not a big drama. We try to do better tomorrow. There is no hope in the classification but let’s see – the weather conditions look tricky.”
Another 64.64KMs of specials in the remaing 5 stages, including the power-stage on Sunday remains and shall declare the winners down under, for the last time this year for the World Rally Championship event.
Sit tight, and lets see what we have in store for the ultimate day shootout tomorrow. Until then, happy rallying!
End of Saturday, Overall after SS16