Sébastien Ogier increased his lead at Dayinsure Wales Rally GB on Friday afternoon as closest challenger Ott Tänak slipped back with suspension worries.
Stage info: SS5 / SS6
SS5: Myherin 2, 31.82km
A Rally GB classic kicks off the afternoon’s action – but with a difference, as Myherin is driven in the opposite direction to normal. It is fast and smooth from the start with enticing corners early on. The stage twice weaves between wind turbines during a long section across open moorland. It ends with a fast descent through a sequence of wide road hairpins, some of which tighten at the exit, on adverse camber.
SS6: Sweet Lamb 2, 4.24km
Sweet Lamb is a spectator magnet as fans pack the hillsides in the bowl for uninterrupted views across almost 2km of the stage. It’s all downhill from the start, via a double hairpin, into the arena. Two jumps and a water splash provide great entertainment before the road climbs away over the moors to the finish. Only a few hundred metres are the same as last year but that section is where Jari-Matti Latvala crashed.
Low cloud and light rain made conditions just as difficult as they were this morning as drivers returned for a second attack through the Myherin and Sweet Lamb speed tests. The result was also the same as Ogier topped the timesheets in both stages.
The Frenchman was quickest in his Volkswagen Polo R through Myherin by 4.8sec from team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala. He then won Sweet Lamb by 1.2sec from Thierry Neuville to more than double his 7.7sec lead over Tänak to 17.4sec.
The Estonian was third in both tests but was a frustrated man. “We had some problems with the rear suspension, something may be loose. Sometimes the wheel is open, I don’t know why it’s like this,” he said.
Worse befell Craig Breen, who rolled his Citroën DS 3 2.1km after the start of Myherin. Neither he nor co-driver Scott Martin were injured but it was an early end to the Irish driver’s day.
Andreas Mikkelsen continued to struggle with only rear-wheel drive in his Polo R following a driveshaft breakage this morning. The Norwegian dropped more than 2min 30sec and fell away from the top 10 leaderboard.
Quentin Gilbert, driving a World Rally Car in the WRC for the first time, complained of a strong smell of fuel in the cockpit of his DS 3. Team-mate Stéphane Lefebvre, returning to action after a huge crash in Germany in August, lost concentration after seeing Breen’s wreckage and steered a steady but safe line to the finish.