Solberg, in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, was 6.4s in front of Citroen driver Loeb starting today’s closing six stages but slipped behind on the second test before dropping further behind following an awkward landing on stage 16.
However, Latvala insists his tenure of second place is far from secure. “We are now in front of Petter but it’s not finished,” said Loeb. “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.”
Out front, Latvala’s lead now stands at 29.3s at the midday halt in Cardiff. “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 seemingly secure fourth place has come under threat from Mikko Hirvonen after a power fault slowed his Adapta Fiesta. M-Sport Fiesta drivers Ott Tanak and Evgeny Novikov both dropped time with moments on Sunday’s opener. They remain in sixth and seventh respectively. Thierry Neuville is eighth with Matthew Wilson, despite a misfire. Martin Prokop completes the top 10.
Chris Atkinson suspects a sensor problem is causing a gear-change issue on his MINI John Cooper Works WRC. He remains in 11th place, one position ahead of Volkswagen Motorsport’s Sebastien Ogier.
Craig Breen holds a comfortable advantage over PROTON’s Tom Cave in the Super 2000 World Rally Championship division. Yazeed Al-Rajhi is third with Maciej Oleksowicz fourth. Alastair Fisher currently tops a close battle with P-G Andersson for fifth, a mere three seconds ahead of the Swede.
Stage 17, Port Talbot 2, gets underway at 12:07hrs local time.