Saturday | 03 Oct 2015

Latvala edges ahead of Evans in Corsica

Jari-Matti Latvala overcame a late gearbox problem to edge ahead of Elfyn Evans and lead the Tour de Corse - Rallye de France after Saturday’s second leg.

Latvala switched to the manual gearshift system in his Volkswagen Polo R during the final speed test. Although that cost time, the Finn did enough to end the penultimate leg 2.0sec clear of surprise pacesetter Evans.

Storm damage forced the cancellation of the opening stage for a second day. But Latvala rocketed through the next test to slash Evans’ 22.9sec overnight advantage to just 1.7sec, before gaining the initiative in the final 48.46km stage near Corte, the longest of the rally.

“I had a problem with the gearbox shifting down and lost my rhythm,” said Latvala. “It was difficult under braking because I couldn’t trust the gears. I had to use the manual shift but we got through and now we need to change the gearbox.”

Evans, chasing a maiden WRC win in his Ford Fiesta RS, wasn’t as confident as yesterday. “I didn’t have the same rhythm. I went well in some places but not in others and it was difficult to be confident, but it’s all still to play for tomorrow,” he said.

Yesterday’s downpours were replaced by sunshine, leaving exposed mountain roads dry this morning while those in the shade were covered by a slippery layer of slime. The contrast in grip was greater than in persistent rain and conditions proved equally as difficult.

Evans holds second place overnight

Andreas Mikkelsen catapulted from seventh to third in a Polo R, which understeered through the last stage. He was 30.8sec off the lead and 22.8sec ahead of Kris Meeke, who followed him up the leaderboard from eighth to fourth in Citroën’s DS 3.

Kevin Abbring, second last night, dropped to fifth in his Hyundai i20. He admitted his gamble of hard tyres this morning was a mistake, compounded by a slow puncture, and the Dutchman felt his afternoon set-up was too conservative.

Sixth was Mads Østberg, the Norwegian losing time this morning when his DS 3 was set-up for drier conditions. Hayden Paddon, Bryan Bouffier, Stéphane Sarrazin, who lost turbo boost and bent a steering arm, and Ott Tänak completed the leaderboard.

Sébastien Ogier, who retired late last night with a gearbox problem, restarted in 55th place and won the final stage en route to 24th.

After an overnight halt in Porto-Vecchio, Sunday’s final leg comprises three more stages covering 94.91km, now the longest of the rally. The final 16.74km test from Bisinao to Agosta Plage comprises the live TV Power Stage with bonus points for the fastest three drivers.

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