Friday | 03 Oct 2014

Mikkelsen edges close to Latvala

Andreas Mikkelsen trimmed Jari-Matti Latvala’s lead in Rally de France-Alsace to just two-tenths of a second after claiming his second stage victory of the opening leg in stage four.

Stage info: SS4

Col de la Charbonnière 2, 11.11km
Much of this stage is new, but a small section was used in 2012. Wide and abrasive in places, it climbs for 7.5km before descending, with high speeds throughout.

The Norwegian was 0.1sec faster than Sébastien Ogier and 0.5sec quicker than Latvala as Volkswagen claimed its second 1-2-3 finish in this 11th round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

“A clean stage but it was a bit more slippery than this morning as the road warms up. I’m in a good rhythm and I’ll try to stay there,” said Mikkelsen.

Latvala echoed his colleague’s words. “There’s a lot of rubber on the Tarmac and it’s incredibly slippery. I’m sure someone will overshoot the final hairpin, we were completely sideways,” he said.

Ogier’s morning problems were traced to a faulty gearbox shift sensor which caused the engine to cut power. The team replaced the sensor and also changed the gearbox as a precaution, but Ogier admitted the time lost added to a four-minute penalty for checking in early at SS3, meant his weekend was ruined.

“Everything is working well now but it’s a little bit too late. It’s only a test now and trying to get some pleasure. The only target now is the Power Stage,” he said.

Kris Meeke was fourth to retain third in his Citroen DS3, while Dani Sordo and Mads Østberg climbed to fourth and fifth as a result of alternator problems for Elfyn Evans on the liaison section into service after SS3.

The Welshman stopped en route to Strasbourg and he and co-driver Dan Barritt produced a super-human effort to push their Fiesta RS into service. They were 10 minutes late and the 1min 40sec penalty relegated them from fourth to 11th.

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