17 May 08
A fourth consecutive stage win from Jari-Matti Latvala on SS9 - the first of the afternoon’s repeat loop - meant he narrowed the gap on his BP-Ford team-mate Mikko Hirvonen by more than five seconds.
Latvala, who won his first WRC rally three months ago in Sweden, now trails the BP-Ford team leader by a slender 7.1sec.
“That stage went really well,” said Latvala after the finish control. “In a couple of places I slid a bit too wide, but I’m very happy to be getting close to Mikko. It’s getting interesting. Let’s keep it going!”
Hirvonen said he was driving flat out to try and keep Latvala behind. He set the second fastest time and edged a little closer to rally leader Sebastien Loeb, but a good time from the Citroen driver meant he still kept a 38sec advantage.
Gigi Galli was fourth fastest through the stage and had his sights on Dani Sordo’s fourth place overall. The Italian narrowed the gap to Sordo from 19.4sec to 15.0sec. Despite losing ground to Galli, Sordo maintained his car felt better than it had in the morning. “It’s better now, I’m happy,” he said. “I don’t know about Gigi or the other people behind me, but its okay for me.”
After the earlier light rain had cleared the stage was essentially dry, with a ground temperature of 22 degrees Celsius.