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Rally standings could go to final stage

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 19/11/2016 Scott Bailey

Sunday's final stage at the Rally Australia shapes as the most important of the season in the battle for second spot in the championship.

Along with being the final stage of the last round of the season, the 6.37km dash is the power stage of the Rally Australia, meaning points are on offer for the three quickest drivers.

If positions stay as they are at the end of Saturday - with Andreas Mikkelsen first and Thierry Neuville in fourth - the quickest of the pair to finish in the top three of the last stage will take the runners-up spot in the title race.

"If we win the rally then the power stage will be really important," Mikkelsen said.

Mikkelsen's bid to finish second in the standings would ensure Volkswagen claim their fourth consecutive drivers' championship 1-2, with teaamate Sebastien Ogier having already wrapped up the title.

New Zealander Hayden Paddon also remains a realistic chance of becoming the first Kiwi or Australian to finish in the top three of the championship.

While he claimed at the start of the week he was interested only in finishing on the podium this weekend, he now admits he could look to the season standings on Sunday.

The battle for third could also come down to the power stage if both Ogier and Paddon are to make up the respective two and 12 seconds gaps on Mikkelsen, pushing him back to third.

That would leave Paddon and Mikkelsen equal on points, meaning the quickest through the power stage would again prevail.

"The only way we can get up in the championship is we would have to beat Andreas," Paddon said.

"The points there could be crucial."

The stage will still count to the aggregrate times of the drivers, which determine the overall winner of the event.

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