Andreas Mikkelsen will lead the field on the road on the second day of Kennards Hire Rally Australia after dominating the opening leg of the 2017 World Rally Championship finale today. Mikkelsen will go into the longest stage of the rally at Nambucca at 7.18am tomorrow with a 20.1s lead, after wrapping up the day with two conservative passes in front of a packed crowd on the harbour-side 1.27km Destination NSW Super Special Stage tonight.

A WRC TV chopper follows Andreas Mikkelsen on SS1. Photo: Peter Whitten

After taking advantage of ninth place in the starting order this morning – set according to championship positions - the order for Day 2 sees the fastest drivers outright go off first. This will put Mikkelsen in the position of having to “clean” the loose-gravel roads for following competitors, a burden world champion Sébastien Ogier wore today. A clean sweep of wins in the SSS test by Thierry Neuville saw the Belgian driver move to second outright and clip .8s off teammate Mikkelsen’s overall advantage.

Kris Meeke had a strong day and lies in third. Photo: Peter Whitten

Kris Meeke (Citroen) is 20.8s off the pace in third with Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota) fourth. Craig Breen (Citroen) ended his maiden Rally Australia to be classified in a commendable fifth ahead of Ott Tanak (M-Sport), Hayden Paddon (Hyundai), Sebastien Ogier (M-Sport), Stephane Lefebvre (Citroen) and Elfyn Evans (M-Sport). Mikkelsen, the defending Rally Australia winner, will lead the action which starts with the iconic 48.99km Nambucca stage. Mikkelsen: “For sure there was some cleaning in there. So I struggled a bit being early on the road but I can’t complain too much because I had a good starting position today.” Saturday’s first stage begins at 7:18am local time.
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