Latvala leads as Kubica charges
Rallye de France leader Latvala wins all three Saturday morning stages
Vallée de Munster 2, 18.90km
Medium width all the way, it starts under tree cover and climbs a bumpy road to the top of a col, after which it’s a high-speed descent, mixed with hairpins and chicanes, to the finish. The first 5.3km are new but the rest is the same as last year. The roads were used as a stage in this year’s Tour de France.
He was quickest by 1.9sec from Volkswagen Polo R colleague Sébastien Ogier, and with nearest rival Andreas Mikkelsen 5.4sec down, the Finn extended his lead to 20.2sec.
“I changed the set-up a little bit and the car was slightly nervous on the bumps but on the smooth sections it was really good,” said Latvala.
Mikkelsen felt his car’s suspension was too soft and the Norwegian planned to stiffen the settings ahead of the next test.
The four-car battle for fourth tightened further as Mikko Hirvonen closed on his rivals ahead with fifth fastest time in his Ford Fiesta RS. Less than 14sec cover the quartet, with fifth-placed Robert Kubica also closing on Dani Sordo in front.
“That felt, really, really good,” said Hirvonen. “I made a perfect start to the stage and I hope I can keep that pace going,” said the Finn.
Elfyn Evans spun his Fiesta RS but the Welshman retained eighth ahead of Bryan Bouffier.