Craig Breen second despite brush with kangaroo
Despite an encounter with a kangaroo, Craig Breen finished the first leg of Rally Australia in second place behind his Citroen team-mate Mads Ostberg.
On an encouraging day for the much-maligned Citroen C3 WRC, Ostberg, who replaced the sacked Kris Meeke in the latter part of the season, led by just under seven seconds from Breen, the two of them benefitting from lower positions in the starting order to edge ahead of the Toyota of Jari Matti Latvala.
Two-time Circuit of Ireland winner Breen said: "Other than the first stage (where he clipped the kangaroo) I had a good opening leg. We were right on the pace all day, which you can see with our win on the longest stage."
The start order on day one is determined by World Championship positions but it was reversed last night for the second leg, meaning Ostberg and Breen, both fighting for WRC places next season, will encounter the loose gravel which saw title contenders Sebastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville off the pace.
But it was Ogier, chasing a sixth successive World title, who had the advantage after Neuville's Hyundai suffered a puncture, dropping him to 10th, over a minute behind leader Ostberg.
More importantly he was over 30 seconds behind the M-Sport Ford of Ogier who held seventh place.
Toyota's Ott Tanak, who has an outside chance of taking the title away from Ogier or Neuville, was fifth behind the Hyundai of Hayden Paddon and just ahead of team-mate Esapekka Lappi but the advantage had swung in the French ace's favour with two days still to run.