Jari-Matti Latvala will be forced to clean the road for his rivals on the final day of Rally Australia after completing Saturday’s last gravel test at the head of the field on the New South Wales Coffs Coast today.

With the standings after the 13.79-kilometre 18th stage being used to determine the running order for day three, leader Latvala will start at the front when the field hits a fresh gravel stage at 6.56am.

The cars contesting round 10 of the 2011 FIA World Rally Championship will tackle stages of 14.83km, 30km and 4.58km north of Coffs Harbour in the morning and again after the late-morning service break.

The final test, called the Power Stage, will start at 3.30pm. It will be hotly contested, offering not only bonus championship points but also global live television coverage for the first three finishers.

Latvala will start the day 22.6s ahead of his factory Ford teammate Mikko Hirvonen and a 37.4s ahead of 2003 World Champion Petter Solberg, whose privateer Citroen is the highest-placed representative of the French make.

The Citroen works drivers Sebastien Ogier and Sebastien Loeb are 11th and 17th respectively after both crashing out of yesterday’s contest and rejoining down the field this morning.

Latvala indicated he would play it steady tomorrow.

“I’m not worried about running first, I just need to keep the car on the road,” he said.

Petter Solberg promised to push hard, having once again gone faster than both factory Ford Fiesta drivers on Special Stage 18, although 1.2s slower than the standard set by Loeb, who claimed his first stage win of the day in his Citroen DS3 WRC.

“It’s going alright, (but) we are afraid of Petter. Petter is on the charge; you can’t tell with him at times, he can be really fast,” Latvala said.

Hirvonen added: “I’m going flat out. I’m worried about Petter Solberg.”

The teams returned to the Coffs Harbour waterfront tonight for the third and final night on the Castrol Edge Super Special Stage.

Although it would take a miracle to get to the podium tomorrow afternoon, Sebastien Ogier has continued to push for the top 10.

He won three of the afternoon stages, while Loeb won the final test, SS18, indicating Loeb’s rollover and Ogier’s impact with a tree yesterday have not affected their speed.

Rally Australia finishes officially tomorrow afternoon with a podium presentation at 5.30pm.

1 Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila
Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
2 Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen                         + 22.6
Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
3 Petter Solberg / Chris Patterson                        + 37.4
Citroen DS3 WRC
Petter Solberg WRT
4 Matthew Wilson / Scott Martin                        + 4:44.76
Ford Fiesta RS WRC
M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team
5 Khalid Al Qassimi / Michael Orr                        + 3:21.7
Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Team Abu Dhabi


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