Colin McRae made maximum use of his start position for the opening day of Rally Australia to complete the second leg in second place!
Colins Škoda Motorsport World Rally Team partner Armin Schwarz finished 10th as he contests the final rally of his career.
With a group of five stages without service this morning it was a frustrating for Colin when he lost the automatic gearshift on the opening stage. It cost a few seconds on each stage and allowed the Scot to be caught and passed by Harri Rovanpera.
However on the final stage of the group he regained the place and with overnight leader Petter Solberg retiring with engine damage after hitting a kangaroo, McRae returned to service in second place, 23.8 seconds behind Francois Duval.
Armin moved into the top 10 during the morning, helped by second fastest on the third stage of the day but was taking no risks at all on his final appearance in the World Rally Championship.
Tomorrows final leg features six more forest stages (three stages, each run twice) totalling 103.32kms and including two runs over the longest stage of the event, the 29.93kms Helena North stage. The rally finishes in Perth at 1445 (0745CET).
Colin McRae: We lost some time this morning with the gearshift problem but it wasnt so bad. Im working hard to win the battle with Harri and trying to keep Francois under pressure. Given that Ive only driven the car in competition for less than 600kms Id settle for second right now but Im still going to try and win if I can. The Fabia is certainly good enough to set the times it needs.
Armin Schwarz: It has been quite good fun today. If the roads are on their second use the ruts are very bad and you have to be careful not to get out of them but if the roads are smooth you can really enjoy sliding the car and entertaining the crowds. There are a lot of spectators watching the stages.
Martin Muehlmeier (Head of Škoda Motorsport): I went out to watch the famous jumps today. Colin was by far the most spectacular driver. But what impressed me most was the level of support he has even on the far side of the world from home. He is a true superstar.