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Rally Australia - Friday afternoon

Andreas Mikkelsen has capitalised on his advantageous road position during the opening day of Rally Australia to head the field by 20.1 seconds. The Norwegian has dominated proceedings and won five of the day’s six forestry tests before heading back to Coffs Harbour for the super special stages. Thierry Neuville snuck into second position after winning both runs through the super specials this evening, the Belgian taking the position from Kris Meeke by just seven tenths of a second. 

This afternoon’s three stages were identical to those run this morning and the crews then rounded off the day with two runs through the harbour side stage. After winning all the morning’s stages, Mikkelsen set the pace again this afternoon and only lost out to team-mate Neuville in the second stage. He steadily increased his lead, taking full advantage of his road position as he bids for a second victory in Australia and to become the eighth different victor this season. A win for Neuville in SS5 saw the Belgian leap ahead of third-placed Craig Breen but he then dropped a couple of seconds in the final long stage, struggling to push on his soft tyres. But, in the super specials, victory in both inched him ahead of Meeke.

Craig Breen has had a messy loop with two tyres off the rim and from third has dropped to fifth behind Jari-Matti Latvala, albeit only by nine-tenths of a second. Ott Tänak has struggled this afternoon, losing the rear diffuser and some aero devices again but the Estonian also remains in the battle, as does Hayden Paddon. The Kiwi is seventh but less than 20 seconds separate him from second-placed Neuville after 113 competitive kilometres. Reigning FIA World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier always knew he would be hampered by running at the head of the field and the Frenchman is 47.9 seconds off the lead. His charge has not been helped by an intermittent gear shift problem all day. He is just 9.4 seconds ahead of Stéphane Lefebvre with Elfyn Evans rounding off the top 10. Esapekka Lappi has moved ahead of WRC 2 contender Kalle Rovanperä this afternoon, the pair in 11th and 12th respectively.

Rally Australia – Provisional results after Section 3

1.   Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jæger

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

57min 51.9sec

2.   Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

58min 12.0sec

3.   Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle

Citroën C3 WRC

58min 12.7sec

4.   Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila

Toyota Yaris WRC

58min 21.8sec

5.   Craig Breen/Scott Martin

Citroën C3 WRC

58min 22.7sec

6.   Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja

Ford Fiesta WRC

58min 24.9sec

7.   Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshall

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

58min 30.1sec

8.   Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia

Ford Fiesta WRC

58min 39.8sec

9.   Stéphane Lefebvre / Gabin Moreau

Citroën C3 WRC

58min 49.2sec

10. Eflyn Evans / Daniel Barritt

Ford Fiesta WRC

59min 05.7sec