The Power Stage uses roads that the drivers have used before and features the Brinco jump near the end. The roads are mid-to-wide and fast, descending after about 7km towards the thousands of fans at the jump. It is difficult to judge the braking here - 10kph wrong either way and drivers will either lose time or damage the car. In many corners there are small stone walls which could catch out those who cut too much.
How the action unfolded:
If anyone thought rally leader Sebastien Ogier would throttle back and preserve his lead rather than chase Power Stage points, then they were mistaken. The Frenchman took maximum bonus points by winning the test by 5.9sec in his Volkswagen Polo R.
If that was a surprise, then so was the fact that Mads Ostberg and Jari-Matti Latvala were second and third, claiming two and one points respectively. Latvala started first on the road and Ostberg was just one car behind him, and both endured the worst of the conditions as they ploughed slippery loose gravel.
With the exception of Ogier, it seemed those higher up the leaderboard were unwilling to risk their overall positions in the pursuit of Power Stage points, despite the benefit of cleaner roads further down the start order.
A relaxed Ogier was asked if he was trying to win everything and joked: “Not everything – but as much as I can! I wasn’t flat out but the road was getting cleaner and cleaner. Mads did a good job to take second from second on the road.”
Ogier referred to a small problem with the throttle, the Frenchman checking it out before the stage start. Wrc.com understands it is related to the throttle sensor, but the Volkswagen Motorsport team in the Leon service park remained unconcerned.
Ostberg will be hugely surprised with second in his Ford Fiesta RS. “It was very difficult because there was a lot of gravel on the road and the drivers behind will have a cleaner line. They will have to go very slowly not to beat my time,” he said.
Latvala was a further 2.3sec behind in the other Polo R. “The feeling was good but it’s so slippery,” said the Finn. “We took two spare wheels this morning but maybe that wasn’t the right decision.”
Mikko Hirvonen was fourth in his Citroen DS3, despite completing the stage with a huge chunk of rubber missing from his rear left tyre. Fortunately for him the tyre remained inflated. Dani Sordo’s Citroen DS3 and Evgeny Novikov’s Fiesta RS rounded off the top six.