Ogier leads comfortably as weekend WRC Rally action begins
SEBASTIEN Ogier made an impressive start to his bid to clinch the FIA World Rally Championship drivers' title.
The Frenchman was fastest on all six of Friday's country stages and one of the repeat town tests in his Volkswagen Polo R to overnight with a 20.0sec lead.
"It was a perfect day," he said.
"There are two long days in front of us so nothing is done but we couldn't have expected better."
Ogier was cautious in the morning run as he checked his pace notes at rally speed before attacking harder in cleaner conditions during the afternoon.
Mikko Hirvonen enjoyed one of his best days of a tough year.
Despite a far from ideal road position, he held third before using the benefit of the swept roads to displace Citroen DS3 team-mate Kris Meeke from second.
"Dust was a problem this afternoon and also in stages in town when it was hard to see anything, the Finn said.
Coffs Harbour resident Nathan Quinn holds ninth after a solid debut in a Mini John Cooper Works with Khalid Al Qassimi's DS3 completing the leader board.
Dust hanging among the trees proved a constant hazard and organisers extended the gap between cars from two to three minutes for the morning before widening it to four minutes in the afternoon as the breeze disappeared.
Today, competitors face six more stages covering 132.68km and rain is forecast.
Results (after 10 stages)
1 Sebastien OGIER 58:46.6
2 Mikko HIRVONEN 59:06.6
3 Thierry NEUVILLE 59:24.7
4 Kris MEEKE 59:25.2
5 Jari-Matti LATVALA 59:44.8
6 Mads OSTBERG 59:48.3
7 Andreas MIKKELSEN 59:50.4
8 Evgeny NOVIKOV 59:55.8
9 Nathan QUINN 02:49.2
10 Khalid AL QASSIMI 03:28.0