Friday | 13 Feb 2015

SS6 / SS7: Latvala eats into Ogier's lead

Jari-Matti Latvala slashed Sébastien Ogier’s Rally Sweden lead to just 1.0sec as the Frenchman endured two troublesome stages following the mid-leg regroup.

Stage info: SS6 / SS7

SS6: Kirkenær 2, 7.07km
This is a spectator favourite which winds along a thin strip of land between a river and a man-made bank. Huge crowds stand on top of the bank, taking advantage of perfect views over the stage below.

SS7: Finnskogen 2, 20.76km
This first stage entirely in Norway is a tricky one, mixing tight hairpins with fast curvy roads through open pine woods. Some roads were used last year in the opposite direction, but much is new.

The windscreen wipers on Ogier’s Volkswagen Polo R failed in the second pass through the Kirkenær stage, allowing team-mate Latvala to reclaim 5.8sec of the Frenchman’s lead.

Ogier worked on the following liaison section to make repairs but finished the following Finnskogen test with a smashed windscreen and buckled bonnet.

“The wipers still don't work, but on this one that wasn't a problem. I made another mistake by forgetting to put the bonnet pins back in on the road section. The bonnet flipped up and broke the windscreen. It was bad luck, but we do our best,” Ogier explained.

Latvala was second in Kirkenær in his similar Polo R, before winning Finnskogen. “I was a bit lucky that Ogier had a problem, but it wasn’t easy because the roads were softer. There was ice but at the side of the ruts there’s lots of snow, and if you touch that you immediately lose grip,” he said.

Kris Meeke’s hopes of reeling in Thierry Neuville for fifth place ended in Finnskogen. “I made a stupid mistake. I went into a snow bank. I couldn’t find the entry point to a corner in the ruts,” said the DS 3 driver, who lost almost three minutes.

Also in trouble in the same stage was Robert Kubica, the Pole dropping two minutes after limping through with a suspected differential problem in his Ford Fiesta RS. “Either that, or the propshaft or driveshaft,” he said. “Now we have front-wheel drive only. All we can do now is cruise through the rest of today.”

Yuriy Protasov was the surprise winner of Kirkenær, the Ukraine driver’s first WRC stage victory.

Lorenzo Bertelli, who struggled with just front-wheel drive in his Fiesta RS after a driveshaft problem, retired at the regroup after SS5.

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