30 May 08
Jari-Matti Latvala set the fastest time through the last - and roughest - of the morning loop of stages to lead the rally at the Friday midpoint.
On his way back to Tatoi for a 30-minute service, Latvala said everything had gone according to plan so far: “I’m quite satisfied. The car is working well, let’s keep it going,” he said.
Defending World Champion Sebastien Loeb was second fastest and moved ahead of his Citroen team-mate Dani Sordo into second overall. Loeb said that although his C4 WRC was working well, he was unable to match the pace of the cars running after him on a cleaner road. “It was okay, I tried hard,” said Loeb. “It was rough in this one but okay, it’s also cleaning a lot. I did a good drive but I’m sure the guys further down the order will be faster.”
Dani Sordo was third fastest on the stage, and returns to Tatoi third overall with a 26 second cushion to fourth placed Mikko Hirvonen.
First on the road and encountering the worst of the sandy conditions, Hirvonen was fifth fastest through the stage and doing his best to minimise the time lost to the leaders. “It was okay, there were some very big stones but the car was tough enough to take it,” said Hirvonen. “We will see, I’m going to try and hang on.”
The Subaru duo of Solberg and Atkinson completed the morning loop in their new cars in fifth and eight places overall. Solberg was fourth fastest on SS3 - the team’s most competitive time of the day. “It’s getting better and better,” said Solberg. “It’s a new car, so it’s different, but I’m happy to have it here.”
P-G Andersson reported a small brake problem throughout the stage and was glad to have got his SX4 WRC though the most challenging of the day’s stages. “It’s rough as hell in there,” he said.
Estonian Urmo Aava dropped a place to seventh overall after a scare early in the stage. “I hit a stone and thought I had a rear puncture,” said the Citroen C4 driver. “So I slowed a little and drove cautiously for about five kilometres. Luckily it turned out to be okay so I was able to increase the pace again.”
Matthew Wilson dropped one minute to the leaders, and slid from ninth to 13th place, after a problematic stage. “We stalled a couple of times near the start, but then broke a drive-shaft,” said Wilson. “It’s a bit of a mystery because we didn’t hit anything but we’ll get it fixed in service.”