Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson ended the day seventh overall in the other DS3 WRC.
After a magnificent performance in Finland and having led a world rally for the first time in Germany, Kris Meeke continued to improve. The Briton grabbed the Rally Australia overall lead at the end of SS3 (Newry 1) after claiming his second consecutive stage win.
Alongside co-driver Paul Nagle, he then held firm in the lead as his main rivals fought back during the second loop. After the first eight stages, they hold fourth position, 4.1 seconds adrift of the leaders.
Hit by a rear differential problem on SS3, Mads Østberg was unable to match his team-mate’s pace. After losing time following a minor spin on the first stage, the Norwegian fought back in the afternoon to climb back up to seventh place.
Saturday’s leg features six stages and 118 kilometres of timed sections. The cars are due to leave parc ferme at 6.45am (UTC+10), returning to the service park at 12.36pm and concluding the leg at 7.35pm after two runs on the super special stage.
Kris Meeke: “We really had to push all day. Starting from eighth position on the road meant that the grip was better in some sections during the first loop. But this afternoon, the conditions were more or less the same for everyone. In fact, it was pretty rough in places. We’ll need to keep the same level of consistency for the rest of the rally. The aim is not to win at all costs. We’re up against guys who are fighting for the world championship. I have to just keep running my own race. Being in the lead after SS6 was important as it means we’ll have a good starting position tomorrow.”
Mads Østberg: “It was a difficult day. I made a few mistakes and I had a minor technical issue this morning. We think we have found source of the problem. I hope tomorrow will be a better day. We’ll need to improve…”
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “Kris has had a very good day. He managed to make the most of his starting position this morning. In the second loop, although the conditions were pretty similar for everyone, he managed to maintain his pace. That augurs well for the rest of the rally. Mads had some difficulty in finding the right feeling and lost some time on SS3 due to technical issue. During the second loop, he wasn’t able to close the gap to the leaders as he felt that the grip conditions were less favourable than this morning.”
Standings after day 1
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 58:05.8
2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +0.4
3. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +3.5
4. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC) +4.1
5. Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +7.9
6. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +46.4
7. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (Citroën DS3 WRC) +50.3
8. Robert Kubica / Maciej Szczepaniak (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +57.6
9. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:30.5
10. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:08.4…
Fastest times: Sébastien Ogier, 4 – Kris Meeke and Jari-Matti Latvala, 2.
SS1, SS2, SS7 and SS8: Sébastien Ogier
SS3 to SS6: Kris Meeke