The opening 9km are identical to 2012, but the rest is new. A rocky opening is hard on the tyres and contains some big adverse camber jumps. The road turns onto a new section with a spectacular lakeland backdrop and is fast and twisty. The final section is narrow over open and undulating moorland, with no trees for drivers to judge their line.
How the action unfolded
The repeat of the Amboy - Yacanto stage proved disastrous for Mikko Hirvonen, whose hopes of a podium finish were switched off by an electrical glitch aboard his Citroen DS3.
The Finn, who was third going into the stage, dropped almost six minutes and slipped to sixth.
“The main switch is cutting power all the time,” a dejected Hirvonen explained at the finish control. “It happened first on a bumpy section. The engine cut out and we had to switch everything off and on again to get going. It was like that all the way through. I lost count of how many times.”
Jari-Matti Latvala was quick to respond to Hirvonen’s time loss, but soon found himself dealing with problems of his own.
Arriving at the finish with his Polo R sporting front and rear panel damage, the Finn said: “When we heard that Mikko had a problem we took a chance and pushed hard. But soon after we jumped after a crest and the car landed straight in a hole in the road.”
“We hit it really hard and got a puncture. We stopped to change it and actually we did a really quick job. I was satisfied with that. At least we did something well today,” he added.
Changing the wheel cost Latvala almost two minutes, dropping him behind Evgeny Novikov. However with Hirvonen dropping behind them both, Latvala remained fourth overall.
Another reliable and consistent run from Fiesta RS driver Novikov moved the Russian up to third, albeit 1m 59.2s behind the lead pair of Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier.
Thierry Neuville was another driver reaping the benefits of a trouble-free rally. The Belgian moved up to fifth following Hirvonen’s problems and the pre-stage retirement of Volkswagen’s Andreas Mikkelsen - the man he had been chasing.
“Now that Andreas is not here there is little point in taking risks,” said Neuville, who drives a Ford Fiesta RS. “The stage was very rough and we’ve seen that many things can happen.”
Rally leader Loeb set the quickest time in his Citroen DS3, extending his advantage over Ogier by more than 10sec to 40.3sec.
“Yeah, it went well,” acknowledged Loeb. “It’s a stage where I was really fast this morning and it’s less rough than the stage before, so I tried hard to make a difference again. No problems at all.”
Meanwhile Ogier insisted that his slower time was purely the result of a cautious approach. “I have no more spare tyres and it was very rough so I was very careful - just going though,” he said.