World Rally Championship leader Sebastien Ogier grabbed the overall lead on Friday`s last stage to hold the early advantage in Rally Australia.
The Frenchman overhauled Jari-Matti Latvala in the final short special stage to lead the Finn with Norway`s Andreas Mikkelsen in third -- all of them driving a Volkswagen Polo R.
Ogier trailed Citroen`s Kris Meeke after six stages in the forests outside Coffs Harbour on the New South Wales north coast, but he pushed hard around the wet, treacherous, concrete-lined Super Special spectator stage to claim the win.
Ogier`s victory put him at the top of the overall Rally Australia standings, relegating Britain`s Meeke to fourth spot.
"I pushed all the way, even in these small stages. It was slippery, but we are pleased for the day," Ogier said.
Volkswagen, the WRC`s most dominant team of the past two years, filled the top three places going into Saturday`s set of six stages.
Finland`s Latvala was in second position 0.4 seconds behind Ogier, with Mikkelsen a further 3.5 seconds back.
Belgian Thierry Neuville dropped almost two minutes and plunged from sixth to 10th overall after breaking the rear suspension in his Hyundai i20 in the Bellingen stage.
"I went a little wide in one of the first corners and hit a stone or something at the exit," said Neuville, who won last month`s Rally of Germany.
"I thought it was OK but shortly afterwards something broke and the wheel was moving. A small part in the rear suspension had broken but I was able to fix it and continue."
Saturday`s second leg covers two loops of two stages, each loop starting with the monster 49-kilometre (30-mile) Nambucca test.
A repeat of the two short stages in Coffs Harbour closed the day after 118.88km (73 miles) of action.
Ogier leads team-mate Latvala in the overall championship standings by 44 points as they look to lock up the manufacturers` title for Volkswagen.