Stage data: SS10, Palsankyla 2 (13.92 kilometres)
By Ford World Rally Team co-driver Miikka Anttila: “This stage is back in the rally after a few years away. It’s similar to Jukojarvi with many junctions. It has narrow bits but also some wide main roads. At the end of the stage there is a big, big jump but you cannot go flat out over this.”
How the action unfolded:
Jari-Matti Latvala says he doesn’t know how to close the gap to Neste Oil Rally Finland leader Sebastien Loeb in the race for top honours on the FIA World Rally Championship counter.
Citroen driver Loeb bagged his fifth stage victory on the high-speed gravel round to maintain his advantage out front and move 17.9s clear of Ford pilot Latvala.
“It’s an amazing drive at the moment,” said Latvala. “I am happy with my car, playing a bit with the set-up but I don’t have any way to pull more time. To get closer [to Loeb] feels very difficult and I don’t know where to take that time. Citroen are very strong at the moment.”
Loeb said: “The stages are quite rough in some places. You can be surprised in some big ruts when you are turning for the corners. I had to be careful.”
Mikko Hirvonen was 0.4s slower than Loeb through the test. He is 3.7s behind his Citroen team-mate and plans to continue pushing over today’s two remaining stages. “Every second counts now,” said the Finnish driver.
Mads Ostberg reported a loud noise coming from the rear-left of his Adapta Fiesta. The Norwegian also said he couldn’t use his car’s handbrake. Thierry Neuville also reported a noise from the front of his car for the closing two kilometres.
Having used his spare tyre following a slow puncture on the previous stage, Ott Tanak said he wasn’t taking any risks in his M-Sport Fiesta.
Matti Rantanen said he had adopted a cautious approach due to the increasingly rough nature of the stage surface. He is now 9.7s behind Jari Ketomaa in the battle for eighth overall.
WRC Team MINI Portugal’s Paulo Nobre went off the road early in the stage and got stuck in mud. He is set to return on Saturday under Rally 2 rules.
Sebastien Ogier completed the stage with broken front-right suspension, a problem that occurred nearing the end of the previous run. His Volkswagen Motorsport team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen stopped in the stage in his similar Skoda Fabia.