Stage data: SS16, Klevener 2 (10.75 kilometres)
By Citroen Junior World Rally Team co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul: “In the past some parts were on gravel but now it’s fully on Tarmac although it’s nearly exactly the same stage. It’s a typical vineyard stage with a lot of 90-degree junctions.”
How the action unfolded:
Evgeny Novikov has completed day two of Rallye de France Alsace by narrowly missing out on a fastest stage time in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
Novikov was 0.3s slower than stage winner, the factory Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala, through the day-closing Klevener test, which didn’t run this morning due to crowd congestion.
“I’m happy of course, I’m trying to fight what else I can do?” said the Russian, who is eighth in the overall standings behind team-mate Ott Tanak. “I am satisfied with my day and I have enjoyed a lot the stages. The tyre choice has been good for this afternoon with five hard tyres.”
Latvala’s stage win, by 0.6s over Loeb, means he is 29.7s behind Citroen’s eight-time world champion Sebastien Loeb heading to the overnight halt. “Without my mistake this morning it could be an interesting fight with Loeb,” said Latvala. “But I have learned a lot today and it’s important for the future.”
Latvala’s pace through the final test means he is 24.3s ahead of Mikko Hirvonen in the battle for second place. Hirvonen, in the second factory Citroen, was 2.1s slower than Latvala.
Meanwhile, Mads Ostberg has increased his margin over fifth-placed Dani Sordo to 4.1s but said he still needs to improve aboard his Adapta Fiesta: “We’re too much up and down, some stages we’re doing really well, some stages we’re driving really bad. I don’t know what to do.”