Sunday | 24 May 2015

SS15: Latvala credits co-driver for stage win

Jari-Matti Latvala credited co-driver Miikka Anttila for providing the confidence boost that spurred him to outpace Sébastien Ogier through the penultimate speed test and move within touching distance of Vodafone Rally de Portugal victory.

Stage info: SS15

Vieira do Minho 1, 32.35km
This stage has a little of everything – sandy sections contrast with a clay surface and wide roads are followed by narrower stretches. The test winds its way between big boulders in the opening few kilometres but it is the final section the drivers will enjoy most, where it is fast with challenging corners.

The Finn was 2.6sec faster than his Volkswagen Polo R team-mate in the 32.35km Vieira do Minho test. He heads into the final live TV Power Stage at the iconic Fafe with a 10.4sec advantage.

Ogier clawed back 1.7sec in the previous stage and Latvala thanked Anttila for his encouragement.

“We talked before the stage because I knew we couldn’t keep the car in the ruts in the previous one. Miikka said to me ‘concentrate, concentrate’. Then 5km into the stage he said ‘you're going great, fantastic’, and that gave me confidence that I will do it,” he said.

Ogier admitted he hadn’t gambled everything. “It was a good stage, clean but not perfect, but I wasn’t in the position to take risks,” he said.

Kris Meeke’s hopes of regaining third from Andreas Mikkelsen were dashed when a rear anti-roll bar broke on his DS 3 and the Northern Irishman dropped more than 16sec to the Norwegian.

“It’s difficult to drive with that when the road is corner to corner, but we have to stay positive and take the speed we’ve had here into the rest of the season,” said Meeke.

Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon slipped into eighth behind Mads Østberg in the previous stage and the Kiwi admitted his chances of regaining it were slim. “Right from the word go the balance of the car was off because we have one worn tyre,” he said.

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