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Rally Australia is just about under way for 2011, with the pre-event shakedown being held this morning just north of Coffs Harbour.

The major incident to come out of the shakedown was an accident to Russian Evgeny Novikov who hit a stump in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC. The car was taken back to the service park on a truck.

Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala was the fastest, 0.2 seconds in front of Petter Solberg's Citroen.

“It’s a real confidence boost to be fastest on roads new to us all,” said Latvala. “I am happy to be back on gravel and the fast and flowing stages here are the type of roads that I like.”

Asked whether he would be able to translate his pace in shakedown to the rally proper, Latvala said: “We know from this morning the car is going to be competitive here so fighting for victory this weekend is our only aim.”

Solberg has a new engine in his Citroen for this event and said his performance in shakedown had given him a renewed sense of optimism.

“I keep up in the shakedown so that will be a big help but now we have to wait and see for the rally,” said the Norwegian. “It’s very good roads here but you need a good balance and that is what we were working on in shakedown. We are optimistic for achieving that.”

Rally Australia gets underway with the first of 26 stages at 19:15hrs local time today (Thursday).

View photos from this morning's Rally Australia shakedown stage HERE.

Top 10 Shakedown times:

1. LATVALA. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:58.9
2. P. SOLBERG. Citroen DS3 WRC. 1:59.1
3. H. SOLBERG. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:59.6
4. OGIER. Citroen DS3 WRC. 1:59.8
5. HIRVONEN. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 2:00.6
6. LOEB. Citroen DS3 WRC. 2:01.0
7. WILSON. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 2:01.6
8. NOVIKOV. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 2:04.4
9. VAN MERKSTEIJN JR. Citroen DS3 WRC. 2:05.0
10. BLOCK. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 2:05.4

 


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