Volkswagen’s Andreas Mikkelsen has dominated the opening day of Rally Australia, the final round of the World Rally Championship (WRC), which started yesterday in Coffs Harbour.

The Norwegian Mikkelsen was untouchable for most of the day on the Coffs Coast roads, winning five of the day’s 11 stages, including four in a row.

He leads teammate Sébastien Ogier, who has already secured this year’s Championship, by 15.4 seconds at the end of day one.

Frenchman Ogier claimed his fourth consecutive WRC title with victory at the Rally of Spain last month.

New Zealand’s WRC star Hayden Paddon led the standings early but finished the opening day in fourth position, just 23.7 seconds off the pace.

The best of the Australian drivers was 21-year-old Harry Bates, who finished the day in 14th position, six minutes and three seconds behind Mikkelsen.

In the WRC2 classification, Esapekka Lappi from Finland leads the field by two minutes and 13 seconds, ahead of Austrian Nicola Fuchs.

The WRC2 Championship race has come down to the final rally of the year, and Lappi will take home the title if he can hold onto his lead.

Australian veteran Simon Evans leads the Australian Rally Championship standings.

There are two more grueling days of rallying ahead of the drivers before Rally Australia concludes on Sunday.

Rally Australia standings (WRC class) at end of day 1

1. Andreas Mikkelsen (Volkswagen), 57:16.7
2. Sebastien Ogier (Volkswagen), +15.4
3. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), +22.5
4. Hayden Paddon (Hyundai), +23.7
5. Mads Ostberg (Ford), +38.8

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