Saturday | 01 Aug 2015

SS12: Latvala and Ogier trade times

The titanic duel for supremacy at Neste Oil Rally Finland between Volkswagen team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Sébastien Ogier continued unabated on Saturday morning with each claiming a stage win.

Stage info: SS11 / 12

SS11: Mökkiperä 1, 13.84km
Mökkiperä is one of the rally’s most technical tests and a tough wake-up call. It has plenty of jumps but is slower than others. The opening section comprises flat roads, long straights and 90 degree corners. But after 6km it switches character, with one fast corner following another, most of them with tricky crests to increase the challenge.

SS12: Jukojärvi 1, 21.14km
A new opening 7.6km introduces the normal Jukojärvi, with a monster jump at 4.9km. Once it joins the usual route, the rhythm changes several times and there are many stones lurking by the roadside which demand precision. The final 13km are very fast, especially the section from 17.50km - 19.50km which Mikko Hirvonen says requires just one dab of the brakes!

Overnight leader Latvala stretched his lead to 6.0sec by winning Mökkiperä in his Polo R, only for Ogier to strike back and top the times in Jukojärvi. It left the gap between them at 2.1sec – exactly the margin when they turned off their engines last night.

Latvala launched an attack in the opener but credited Ogier for his response. “Seb did a brilliant drive. The road was getting slippery and I didn’t have the best feeling. I didn’t do the best performance,” said the Finn.

Dry roads in the opener hampered Ogier, second in the start order. “It was drier than yesterday and we cleaned the roads. The set-up was too soft and I could have done better. Conditions were damper in the next one. First on the road was the best place but second wasn’t bad,” said the Frenchman, who stiffened the spring settings before the start.

Kris Meeke was second and third to increase his advantage over Citroën team-mate Mads Østberg to 15.5sec. The French squad replaced the transmission on Meeke’s DS 3 last night although the cause of the Ulsterman’s problem yesterday remains unknown.

Østberg survived a close call on the first corner in Mökkiperä, while fifth-placed Thierry Neuville ended Jukojärvi with his Hyundai i20’s windscreen wipers stuck across the front screen.

The Ford Fiesta RS cars of Ott Tänak and Elfyn Evans were restored to full health and both were focused on checking their pace notes having dropped so much time yesterday. However, Tänak was still third in Mökkiperä.

It was a fraught start for Martin Prokop, who went off in the opener and then overshot a junction in the next test.

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