The first section is technical but the second part becomes faster, with several long straights. The roads are mid-to-wide with a hard, rocky surface and there are also a couple of watersplashes to cross.
How the action unfolded:
Jari-Matti Latvala claimed his second consecutive stage win in a Volkswagen Polo R when he edged out team-mate and rally leader Sebastien Ogier by two-tenths of a second.
Latvala’s induction into the Polo R this season has not been easy and while the Finn sounds happier this morning, his comments at the finish were perhaps telling about his state of mind.
Asked if he was comparing his times with his French team-mate, Latvala revealed: “We’re concentrating on Mikko behind us at the moment. I’m not thinking about Ogier. It would be nice to fight against him but now is not the right time.”
Although Ogier looked cool, calm and collected, the virus which has made him feel so ill for the last two weeks is making life tough.
“I’m trying to drive fast but when the stages are long it’s not easy. I have to find the energy to drive. It’s not an easy rally for me,” said the 29-year-old, whose lead over his colleague stands at 10.1sec.
Mikko Hirvonen was fastest at the third split point after almost 15km in a Citroen DS3, but slipped back in the final 10km and completed 3.0sec slower than Ogier.
He was at a loss as to why he had dropped time but explained that he focused on keeping his driving neat. “If I pushed harder I would have become untidy and lost more time,” he said.
After his retirement yesterday Mads Ostberg is first on the road in his Ford Fiesta RS and fourth fastest amid the slippery loose gravel was impressive. The Norwegian joked that he cleared the perfect line for those behind to benefit.
Evgeny Novikov was fifth in another Fiesta RS, but the Russian continued to sound deflated. “I’m driving to the maximum but something is wrong because the times are not there,” he explained.
Robert Kubica continues to struggle in his Citroen DS3 RRC. A hydraulic issue means the paddle shift that he has dispensation to use because of his hand injury is not working. He is using the manual gear lever with his weaker right hand.
“The problem is that the gear stick in my car is much harder to shift than the normal one. We are also struggling because we have no handbrake. One more stage to go, so let’s hope we can get to service okay,” said the Pole.
In the WRC-3 category, both leader Keith Cronin and second-placed Alastair Fisher stopped in the stage. It is not yet known what problems the duo encountered in their Citroen DS3 R3Ts, but Fisher eventually finished the stage having lost more than 17 minutes.