French ace Sébastien Ogier has snared the top WRC time in the  shakedown test today ahead of Kennards Hire Rally Australia on the New South Wales Coffs Coast. As the final round of the FIA World Rally Championship reaches its gripping conclusion, Ogier set the benchmark through the Wedding Bells shakedown stage with a 2min53.8sec best. The M-Sport Ford driver led home Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen (2:54s) and Toyota rocket Ott Tänak (2:54). Hyundai’s Belgian gun Thierry Neuville was third fastest in 2:54.1s.

Great weather greeted crews on Thursday morning, but that may change as the weekend plays out. Photo: Peter Whitten

Ogier goes into the thrilling decider with a three-point lead over Neuville as he strives for a sixth WRC title. Tanak remains the only other driver in contention on 181 points. After coming from behind and overtaking Neuville’s lead in the standings, Ogier says his strategy is clearly about engaging in maximum attack. “It is a weekend where there is no question about the strategy, we have to go flat out from the start,” he said.

Craig Breen was fifth in the pre-event warm up. Photo: Peter Whitten

“Friday is very important because you need to quickly get a good start position for the rest of the weekend. “It was a good feeling this morning in the shakedown so bring on tomorrow.” As teams try to hone their set-up for the opening day of competitive stages tomorrow, Craig Breen (Citroen) was fifth after posting a 2:55.4s best. The rest of the top 10 was filled by Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) sixth, Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota), Esapekka Lappi (Toyota), Teemu Suninen (Ford) and Elfyn Evans (Ford).
  • Source: Rally Australia
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