Stage data: SS9, Halfway 1 (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 has cemented his lead of Wales Rally GB by winning his first stage of day two, Halfway. In doing so, the Ford Fiesta RS WRC driver now leads the FIA World Rally Championship counter by 22.2s heading to the midday service halt in Cardiff.
In the battle for second place Sebastien Loeb was 4.0s faster than Petter Solberg to close to within 3.9s of the Norwegian, despite experiencing significant tyre wear in his Citroen. Solberg, meanwhile, reported making a few small mistakes and suggested his Fiesta might be set-up too low to the ground. He was fourth quickest, 7.0s down on his works Ford team-mate Latvala.
Mads Ostberg reached the stage finish with four badly worn tyres following his exploits behind the wheel of his Adapta Fiesta. “I thought they were going to last all stage so we just tried,” said Ostberg, who was third quickest, 5.8s adrift of stage winner Latvala.
Mikko Hirvonen is now 30.6s behind Ostberg in the overall standings and continues to struggle with handling issues. He said: “I really had to push like hell, I was on the limit all of the time. I was lucky to stay on the road.”
Super 2000 World Rally Championship leader Craig Breen could be in trouble after discovering an oil leak at the stage finish.