Stage data: SS16, Likes Land Rover at Walters Arena 2 (15.33 kilometres)
By Ford World Rally Team co-driver Chris Patterson: “The start of the stage is the famous Walters Arena, which we did as the Qualifying Stage. We’ve had three competitive runs already and it was in a beautiful condition. We all know the famous bowl but once you come out of there it’s very fast and turns up into the forest and becomes very narrow, which creates a tunnel affect when you go down through the trees. It’s all about being able to carry the speed. It tightens up a lot through the hairpins where there are giant rocks - almost the same size as the Hinkelsteins on the Baumholder stage in Germany - to keep the lorries using the quarry on the road. You need to be so careful and so precise, especially towards the finish.”
How the action unfolded:
Petter Solberg’s bid to reclaim second place from Sebastien Loeb on Wales Rally GB has suffered a slight setback after he completed Sunday’s third stage with his front-left tyre slightly off the rim following an awkward landing in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
Solberg now trails world champion Loeb by 2.9s heading to the mid-morning service halt in Cardiff. “I lost a bit of time after we landed,” said Solberg.
Loeb, who was 2.2s quicker than Solberg through the stage in his Citroen DS3 WRC, said: “We are now in front of Petter but it’s not finished. Since the start of the rally we struggled in the afternoon when the morning has always been okay. The stages are better for our car today because we have a bit more grip.”
While the focus has switched to the battle for second place on the FIA World Rally Championship qualifier, Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala has stretched his overall advantage to 29.3s after he won the stage by 1.7s.
“We had a good feeling, which is also good for the Power Stage if you think about that,” said Latvala. “I was not so relaxed this morning but now the feeling is coming.”
Mads Ostberg’s advantage over Mikko Hirvonen in the race for fourth has been narrowed to 23.0s with the Norwegian still being hampered by a power glitch, and Hirvonen finding more confidence in his Citroen, which is enabling him to push much harder than he was able to do on Saturday.