This test was used in the opposite direction last year. The first 6 km were used in reverse in SS1 so will be rough. A steep, narrow climb ends at the church of Faneromeni, where the road becomes faster and smoother. The stage descends through fast, wide corners until the final few kilometres, characterised by a rock face on the left and gravel banks on the right.
How the action unfolded:
Andreas Mikkelsen was a man on a mission through the opening stage of today’s third and final leg, the Norwegian firmly focused on coming out on top in his battle for fourth place with Nasser Al-Attiyah.
The Volkswagen Polo R driver was quickest by 2.2sec from Evgeny Novikov’s Ford Fiesta RS. But, more importantly, he was 9.9sec quicker than Al-Attiyah’s Fiesta RS and reduced the gap between the pair to 15.8sec.
With a very short road section before the next stage, Mikkelsen was eager to leave the finish and only said: “We pushed hard, maybe a little too hard because we need to finish.”
Al-Attiyah was relaxed, despite only setting ninth fastest time. “It was such a tight stage. I know Andreas and he will push a lot. I didn’t want to take a risk but we will try to push on the next stage, the long one,” the Qatari told WRC Live.
The drivers in the podium places took no risks. Leader Jari-Matti Latvala was fifth in his Polo R, 3.9sec behind Mikkelsen, and said: “It was difficult to get a rhythm as it was quite rutted in places because it was used partly on Friday.”
Second-placed Dani Sordo was seventh in his Citroen DS3. The Spaniard was content to match his pace to that of Thierry Neuville, the man behind him in the standings, who was eighth in his Fiesta RS.
“We controlled the split times against Neuville. We have nothing to do now, so we follow his times,” said Sordo.
Elsewhere, Sebastien Ogier was third fastest with Mikko Hirvonen behind him. Mads Ostberg dropped a few seconds with a spin and had to reverse before continuing.