Stage data: SS13, Masif des Grands Crus - Ungersberg 2 (18.16 kilometres)
By Citroen Junior World Rally Team co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul: “There is a new part in this stage but 80 or 90 per cent is known to the drivers. The beginning is a bit tricky with a few kilometres in the vineyards. The new part is in a small village with very sharp and tight corners. The finish of the stage, the second part, is more fast and with more grip on wide roads but it’s in the forest so it can be a bit damp early in the morning. It’s very beautiful for the drivers because you have a bit of everything.”
How the action unfolded:
Jari-Matti Latvala plans to continue pushing on Rallye de France Alsace after clocking the joint fastest time with Mikko Hirvonen through the repeat of Masif des Grands Crus - Ungersberg.
Latvala, in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, took 10m53.8s to complete the test, a performance mirrored by Hirvonen in a Citroen DS3 WRC.
“It’s good to put a bit of pressure on even though we’re still far away from Sebastien,” said Latvala. “Now we need to keep going like this because the car feels very good. I will need to take more risks but they need to be controlled risks.”
Hirvonen, who is 19.0s behind Latvala, added: “I try to have a good rhythm and keep the pressure on. If the gap is not getting any bigger then he can’t afford any mistakes so we try to stay close.”
Thierry Neuville was third fastest, 0.4s down on Latvala and Hirvonen but slips from fourth to sixth overall after his 20-second penalty for a late check-in at stage 11 was added to his total time. “The set-up of the car feels good and the good information I get from my gravel crew means I can measure where to take risks or slow down,” said the young Belgian.
Russian Evgeny Novikov impressed with the fourth best time in his M-Sport Fiesta with event leader Sebastien Loeb 3.0s slower than Latvala. The Citroen ace continues to head the Finn in the overall classification by 27.0s. Mads Ostberg was sixth quickest to remain firmly in the battle with MINI pilot Dani Sordo for fourth.