This is a slightly extended version of the 2012 stage and is the longest of the weekend. It’s fast, smooth and technical and contains the famous Micky’s Jump. There is a 2km asphalt section after 22km which breaks up the rhythm. It is slippery and the worst stage of the rally to be running first on the road as it cleans quickly.
How the action unfolded:
After winning yesterday’s qualifying stage, Jari-Matti Latvala suffered a disastrous start when he dropped almost two minutes after puncturing the front left tyre on his Volkswagen Polo R just 8km into the test.
Latvala, winner in Greece last time out, was second fastest at the second split point after 7.20km and only a second behind team-mate Sebastien Ogier. But the Finn struggled through the rest of the test, completing 1min 56.4sec off the pace in 12th and arriving at the stop control with the tyre completely shredded.
"I don't know exactly where it happened, but suddenly it just felt like a tyre was flat under braking," he said. "I don't have a clear idea of what happened, at first I thought it was the right tyre because I knew I had hit a stone.
Asked if he through this spelled disaster for his rally, Latvala said: "Well, It doesn't look good, but let's keep going and let's see what happens in this rally."
Ogier was fastest by 5.3sec from the Citroen DS3 of Mikko Hirvonen, despite both drivers damaging the rear spoiler on their cars after swiping a low branch.
Evgeny Novikov, second in qualifying yesterday, was third in his Fiesta RS with Mads Ostberg, Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville rounding off the top six.
Andreas Mikkelsen was another to hit the overhanging branch but the Polo R driver still took seventh.
P-G Andersson, driving a Fiesta RS on his maiden outing this season, dropped a minute with a rear right puncture shortly before the finish.
He inadvertently delayed the following Martin Prokop, the Czech driver admitting: “We were quite close to P-G but it was impossible to catch him in the dust.”