Stage data: SS13, Celtic Manor (3.04 kilometres)
By Ford World Rally Team co-driver Chris Patterson: “This a new stage at the famous Ryder Cup venue. It’s fairly basic, all on Tarmac with no gravel at all. It will be a good show because we’ll be on gravel tyres and there are a few places where it’s a bit tricky. At the start you turn left, go for about two kilometres, get to a roundabout then come back down the same piece of road but in an opposite direction. The venue has placed some large rocks to stop people straying onto the beautiful lawns so you have to be really precise because there’s no margin for error - the rocks are big enough to take a wheel off. It will be a tricky stage but good fun at the same time.”
How the action unfolded:
Jari-Matti Latvala has claimed his first victory on an asphalt superspecial stage in the FIA World Rally Championship after he beat Sebastien Loeb to go fastest on the Celtic Manor test by 1.9s and grow his overall lead to 24.5s.
Latvala put his impressive time at the former Ryder Cup golf venue down to his decision to run worn tyres on the front of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC. “The car was turning really well,” said Latvala. “I’m not usually so good on these stages but this was a fast one and it seems to suit me quite well.”
Russian Evgeny Novikov has closed to within 16.5s of sixth-placed M-Sport team-mate Ott Tanak after he beat the Estonian by 2.8s through the test to go third fastest. “It was better than I expected, a bit of fun at the end of the day with these used tyres and I enjoyed it,” said Novikov. “I am satisfied after this day.”
Petter Solberg was fourth quickest after reporting that he braked too early for one corner. Thierry Neuville was fifth fastest after dropping one second when he made a small mistake at the final hairpin. Mads Ostberg was sixth quickest after he admitted the stage surface had been more slippery than expected.
Matthew Wilson said his decision to bolt on his badly worn tyres on the front of his car triggered a bout of oversteer that made it difficult to control his Fiesta through the asphalt superspecial. He was 13th fastest behind Volkswagen Motorsport’s Sebastien Ogier.
Yazeed Al-Rajhi has reclaimed the lead in the Super 2000 World Rally Championship section, albeit by 0.1s over Craig Breen.