Saturday | 04 Oct 2014

Oil leak delays Mads

The enthralling fight for fourth place at Rallye de France-Alsace lost one of its protagonists when Mads Østberg dropped time with a transmission problem in the final country stage of Saturday’s second leg.

Stage info: SS11/12

SS11: Soultzeren - Le Grand Hohnack 2, 19.93km
Unchanged from 2012 and 2013, it starts on a double-width road and climbs, with fast kinks, in and out of the trees. It reaches a peak at 7.43km, where it passes First World War trenches, before heading downhill to the finish.

SS12: Pays Welche - Riquewihr 2, 21.49km
New this year, the stage is narrow and bumpy with a broken surface and many potholes. It stays under the trees for long sections and passes through a couple of villages before ending with a tricky high-speed descent through a sequence of hairpins.

He had struggled with an oil leak in his Citroen DS3’s rear differential all afternoon and worked on the car before the start of SS12. He checked in late, incurring a time penalty which dropped him to the back of the fighting quartet in seventh.

“I felt it towards the end of SS10 and even more so in the following stage. There was no more oil in the differential and I decided to take a penalty and work on the car otherwise we would not have got through the stage,” said the Norwegian.

Robert Kubica continued his sizzling speed and the Pole’s Ford Fiesta RS was only 0.3sec away from relieving Dani Sordo of fourth. Mikko Hirvonen was 12.6sec further back, the Finn believing he had a slow puncture on the right rear of his Fiesta RS in SS12.

Sébastien Ogier was fastest in both tests in a Volkswagen Polo R, the latter marking his 300th career stage win.

Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala stretched his lead to 25.6sec. With second-placed Andreas Mikkelsen easing his pace, Latvala was able to do likewise. “It was a controlled drive. I know that if I needed to I could push harder, but there’s no need to take any risks,” he said.

Kris Meeke completed SS12 with a front right puncture in his DS3, while Martin Prokop reported a strange noise in the gearbox of his Fiesta RS.

The test was halted for 40 minutes after the first five cars had started to move a course opening car which crashed and was in a dangerous place.

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