Half this stage comprises roads used in the opposite direction last year and the remaining half is new. It starts among a group of wind turbines and runs on roads made to get the trucks to them. They are wide and fast, climbing and descending with great corners. After 10km the stage reverts to a more natural format - still fast but narrower.
How the action unfolded:
Jari-Matti Latvala’s recovery took another step forward when he climbed to third, relegating Dani Sordo who made a mistake and dropped 20sec.
After a first stage puncture yesterday cost two minutes, Latvala has been on a mission to regain a podium place and he achieved that when his pressure forced Citroen DS3 driver Sordo into a spin.
“I spun and stopped the engine and it was very difficult to restart it,” admitted the Spaniard. “It happened at a crest into a hairpin bend and I was just too fast. It was really difficult, and in some places dangerous, because we could not see anything for the dust.”
Latvala is now 13.2sec clear of Sordo, the Volkswagen Polo R pilot finishing the test unaware of Sordo’s problems behind him. “It’s going to be interesting. I’m trying to catch third. It’s really tempting but I am trying to push for that,” said the Finn.
Leader Sebastien Ogier was fastest through the stage by 6.5sec from Latvala and his advantage over second-placed Thierry Neuville widened to 60.4sec.
Looking and sounding totally relaxed at the finish, Ogier told WRC Live: “We’re trying to be as safe as possible. Save the car, save the tyres and avoid punctures.”
Neuville was third fastest in his Ford Fiesta RS, 1.8sec behind Latvala, and the Belgian also gave the impression that he is firmly in control of the situation.
“I was quite careful and I’m trying to save the tyres as well. I have no splits so I didn’t know if Jari-Matti was pushing or not until the first split came in after 18km. I’m happy and I have a good feeling with the car,” he explained.
Birthday boy Andreas Mikkelsen was fourth, with Mads Ostberg’s Fiesta RS fifth, despite the disadvantage of his running position.
“It’s very slippery and it will clean a lot, much more than the previous one,” he said. “We might have a puncture on the rear. It was oversteering in left corners so I think we have a puncture at the back on the right.”