Friday | 14 Nov 2014

Latvala narrows Ogier advantage

Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala traded fastest times as Wales Rally GB returned to Gartheiniog and Dyfi forests to begin Friday afternoon’s loop, but the Finn emerged the happier of the duelling Volkswagen drivers.

Stage info: SS5 / SS6

SS5: Gartheiniog 2, 14.58km
A classic test to start the 2014 rally. It’s fast with plenty of challenging corners and follows the same route as last year. The start is muddy with a series of junctions but the road improves noticeably for the final 4km.

SS6: Dyfi 2, 21.90km
Another famous test that is identical to 2013. It’s fast and flowing on a good surface, but several corners hide puddles on the inside. It starts in the open before becoming narrower at 14.50km, and the final 2km are the toughest of the stage.

He was 5.7sec quicker than Ogier through Gartheiniog, and although the Frenchman took 3.4sec back in Dyfi, Latvala reduced his deficit to 7.2sec.

Ogier admitted to a ‘couple of small mistakes’ in the first test, including missing the turn-in at a hairpin, while Latvala was perplexed at his time loss in Dyfi. “I thought I was driving well so I don’t know why I lost time,” he said.

Third fastest in Dyfi promoted Mikko Hirvonen into third in his Ford Fiesta RS after overhauling Mads Østberg. “I wasn’t able to find a rhythm, it felt very, very, very bad. I have no clue what to change,” admitted a deflated Østberg, whose DS3 is now 1.4sec behind the Finn.

Kris Meeke’s delight at third fastest in SS5, was offset by eighth in Dyfi and the Northern Irishman summed up the feelings of everyone. “It’s so, so slippery. It’s like Rallye Monte-Carlo on gravel,” he said.

Hayden Paddon had power steering problems in Gartheiniog in his Hyundai i20 and traced the issue to a broken pump. He was unable to make repairs and resigned himself to driving the rest of the afternoon with no power assistance.

Henning Solberg set top five times in both stages, despite missing two junctions in Dyfi, and climbed to ninth in his Fiesta RS, now restored to full health after a morning misfire. “I’m really pushing – I don’t want this position!” he said.

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