Spain's Dani Sordo has taken the overall lead, followed by five-time world champion Sebastien Loeb and Ford's Mikko Hirvonen, as the top three drivers were separated by just one tenth of a second on day two of Rally Australia.
AFP - The top three drivers were separated by just one tenth of a second as Spain's Dani Sordo emerged as the leader of Rally Australia after an exciting second day's competition in northern New South Wales on Saturday.
Sordo finished second and first in the last two sprints to take the overall lead by one-tenth of a second from Citroen team-mate and five-time World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb and Ford's Mikko Hirvonen.
All of the trio can win the Australian leg on Sunday's final day with the overnight leader, Jari-Matti Latvala of Finland, some 44.4 seconds behind Sordo in fourth position.
Rain on the day's opening stage limited Latvala's handicap of opening the loose gravel roads, but as the roads soon dried out he struggled to keep the chasing pack behind.
Five-time world champion Loeb has gambled on a bold tactical move to win the rally.
The Citroen ace wrested the lead from Latvala, but dropped off the pace on the last road stage which determined Sunday's starting order.
With the leading car given the difficult job of clearing the road of gravel for his following rivals, Loeb decided he would have little chance as the first car out.
But his move may have backfired after the two short sprints late Saturday around the streets of the Murwillumbah township left a split second between the first three cars.
Sordo and Loeb both edged ahead of Hirvonen on the Super Special stages.
"It's been the perfect day for Citroen," said Sordo. "Tomorrow is still a long day but the positions for me and Sebastien are very good.
"Mikko will clean the road a bit and I will try to push hard and also try to clean a little bit more for Sebastien."
Loeb said: "If it's not too dusty in the morning I think we have the best road position for Sunday.
"But I know Mikko can be very fast, even first on the road, but it’s a long day tomorrow and that's one of the reasons we decided on our tactics.
"If it was only 50km to go then maybe 15 seconds would have been enough to keep, but 120km is too much."
Hirvonen admitted that Sunday would be difficult for him.
"I wasn't planning to be first car on the road on Sunday, but that's how it is now, so I have to do all I can," he said.
Date created : 2009-09-05