Saturday | 23 Jan 2016

SS11: Latvala off threatens podium hopes

Jari-Matti Latvala’s hopes of a Rallye Monte-Carlo podium took a setback when he limped to the end of the event’s longest speed test with suspension damage to the front of his Volkswagen Polo R.

Stage info: SS11

Lardier et Valenca - Faye 2, 51.55km
The longest stage of the event which contains a bit of everything – long fast straights, twisty and narrow sections and climbs and descents. It is quite technical and crosses three passes, Espréaux (1160 metres), La Croix (838 metres) and Faye (930 metres). If the snow that covered the roads during the recce remains, then it will be a tricky challenge.

Third-placed Latvala slipped into a water-filled ditch two-thirds of the way through the second pass of the marathon 51.55km test from Lardier et Valenca to Faye. He lost 1min 50sec struggling to the finish with a broken suspension arm.

Latvala, who dropped to fifth, stopped 500 metres after the finish to replace the damaged arm before continuing. He must tackle two more stages and complete the long journey south to Monaco before his Volkswagen team has any opportunity to check Latvala’s handiwork ahead of tomorrow’s final leg.

Kris Meeke was quickest by 3.4sec from Sébastien Ogier, the DS 3 driver reducing the deficit at the head of the leaderboard to 26.8sec.

“Your instinct is to try to read the road but it’s difficult here. There was a lot of black ice but in other areas it was melting and quite wet,” said the Briton.

Andreas Mikkelsen and Thierry Neuville climbed to third and fourth after Latvala’s problem, but the Belgian was just 0.5sec ahead of the Finn after losing a minute himself.

“We’re trying something else with the tyres, a crossover on this one,” said Neuville. “We lost a minute, which is what we were expecting.”

Stéphane Lefebvre and Bryan Bouffier were fourth and fifth to retain seventh and eighth overall.

Head to WRC+ to see the latest onboard and video reports from Rallye Monte-Carlo. 

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