A repeat of this morning’s opening stage. A smooth test on a mid-to-wide road, the route passes beneath the motorway in two places. For the main part speeds are medium, but it becomes extremely fast towards the finish.
How the action unfolded:
Many drivers’ thoughts were already focused on the final test, the Power Stage, with bonus points available for the fastest three drivers. As such they were looking after their tyres to ensure they were in the best condition for the marathon 52.30km stage.
Not that such things deterred Mads Ostberg, who claimed his third fastest time of the day in a Ford Fiesta RS. He was 2.8sec faster than Jari-Matti Latvala’s Volkswagen Polo R, now restored to full health, and 5.1sec clear of the tying Mikko Hirvonen and Sebastien Ogier.
“I backed off a little on this one to look after the tyres a little bit. We will put two new tyres on the front for the last stage and I will push as hard as I can,” said 25-year-old Ostberg.
Latvala’s problem this morning that cost him second overall was traced to a broken front driveshaft and the 28-year-old Finn paid tribute to the work done by the Volkswagen mechanics.
“There were a lot of things to change. All the suspension corners, the gearbox and some other stuff too. They did a good job and it’s working well now,” he said.
Ogier was in a cautious frame of mind in his Polo R after this morning’s scare, which was finally diagnosed as a rear differential issue. The Frenchman claimed he had no desire to fight for Power Stage points.
“No, I just want to cross the finish line,” he said. “That’s my only goal. The Power Stage is a long one and we’ve had enough problems with the car so I want to save it. I won’t try, not this time.”
The Fiesta RS cars of Nasser Al-Attiyah and Evgeny Novikov were fifth and sixth as all the drivers headed off to switch their tyres around, fit new rubber from the back of their cars and plan their strategy for the Power Stage.