Nothing Meeke about start to Rally Australia
AT THE half way mark of the opening day of the Coates Hire Rally Australia, Citröen driver Kris Meeke has taken an early lead in the battle for vital WRC points.
The early running was made by Spanish driver Dani Sordo who steered his Hyundai Motorsport around the Utungun, Bakers Creek and Northbank stages with aplomb to sit seven seconds ahead of his nearest rival after claiming three straight stage wins.
The challenging Newry Long stage brought Sordo undone.
Sordo completed the stage 11.4sec off the pace to lose the rally lead to Meeke.
Sordo's car showed light damage to the left-rear bumper and bodywork.
"We have a problem with the downshift and we stalled in a hairpin," Sordo explained.
"I went down though the gears but we were still in third when and stalled. That cost us three or four seconds. Overall though I'm still happy."
There were no trobles for Meeke though.
He edged out championship leader and reigning champion Sebastien Ogier to win the stage and take an overall lead of 3.3 seconds ahead of Sordo.
"The tyre choice this morning was complex. When you're behind in the road order yes you have an advantage but when you have more grip you have more tyre wear," Meeke said of the morning's racing.
"I had to try and preserve my tyres for the last stage and that plan worked and kept us in the mix. I'm happy with how it's going so far."
Ogier battled through the opening stages finishing eighth, eighth and seventh in the opening three stages before showing improvement on the Newry stage.
The afternoon loop begins with the repeat of Utungun at 2pm.