Friday | 13 Nov 2015

SS1: Ogier edges Latvala to lead in GB

Sébastien Ogier splashed through Friday morning’s wet and muddy opening stage in Hafren Forest to take an early lead at Wales Rally GB.

Stage info: SS1

Hafren 1, 32.14km
In at the deep end – the longest stage of the rally and a GB classic kicks off the action! The surface is hard but slimy and it’s fast, flowing and smooth throughout. A drainage ditch lines much of the test which drivers can use to ‘hook’ their cars into corners, while big logs have been positioned on the inside of some bends to prevent drivers cutting.

Despite trailing team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala’s split times throughout the test, Ogier was fastest in the final section to head the Finn by 0.8sec in his Volkswagen Polo R.

Torrential rain and strong winds blasted mid-Wales overnight and although Ogier admitted the gravel forest tracks were ‘difficult’, many drivers said the grip was better than expected.

“I was maybe a bit too careful,” said Latvala. “There were a lot of muddy places but not as bad as I expected, so maybe that’s where I lost time near the end.”

Both Latvala and team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, who returned with a clean bill of health from an unscheduled trip to Germany yesterday for a medical check that caused him to miss shakedown, finished with a cut in their rear left tyres after brushing a bank in a right bend.

Kris Meeke was third in a DS 3, 4.4sec off the lead, despite almost spinning after clipping a bank at a hairpin in the opening kilometre. Thierry Neuville was caught out at the same place and had to reverse his Hyundai i20, the Belgian disgruntled to drop 25.0sec in the test.

Mikkelsen, Mads Østberg and Elfyn Evans rounded off the top six, while Robert Kubica was unhappy with the balance of his Ford Fiesta RS after replacing the gearbox at shakedown yesterday.

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