Stage data: SS12, Halfway 2 (18.35 kilometres)
By Ford World Rally Team co-driver Chris Patterson: “Without a doubt for me as a co-driver and I’m sure for Petter as well the best stage of the rally. It’s so fast with a huge downhill section at the start down into the forest. Then you climb up the hill again and turn up onto the Tarmac where Marcus Gronholm famously crashed a few years ago. It’s quite a narrow section, very tricky and important not to cut for three-four kilometres where you turn onto what is known as Route 66 by the locals because it’s so fast with wide, open corners. A lot of my friends go there to spectate. The lines are so important and you’re in for one hell of a show. You just want to turn round and go back again. It will be a big race in there and the speeds will be incredible.”
How the action unfolded:
Jari-Matti Latvala will head to the all-new Celtic Manor stage near Cardiff this evening leading Wales Rally GB by 21.7s following the second Halfway test.
Latvala was second quickest, 0.4s slower than Ford team-mate Petter Solberg, who continues to fend off Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb in the battle for the runner-up spot. Loeb was 0.2s adrift of Solberg through the stage and is now 29.0s behind Latvala in the overall classification.
Evgeny Novikov said a “small mistake” prevented a shot at the stage win in his M-Sport Fiesta, while team-mate Ott Tanak said his rear tyres had become badly worn after he set the fourth quickest time.
Chris Atkinson was distracted when a side window on his MINI John Cooper Works WRC blew out during the stage. Meanwhile, Craig Breen has reclaimed the lead of the Super 2000 World Rally Championship category by edging rival Yazeed Al-Rajhi by a handful of seconds.