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Latvala hangs onto lead in Australia

BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Jari-Matti Latvala remains in the lead on the Repco Rally Australia - but at the mid-day service, five drivers are still in the frame to win what is the tenth round in the 2009 World Rally Championship.

Over the morning's four competitive stages, SS16-SS19, the trailing pack of Sebastien Loeb, Mikko Hirvonen, Sebastien Ogier and Dani Sordo moved 7.1 seconds closer to P1 and now just 16.5 seconds separates first to fifth.

Suffering from his position as first on the road today, the best Latvala could manage was stage times between third and fifth, but it was still good enough to keep him top.

"It has been harder being first on the road than I thought it would be," Latvala stated. "The first stage was wet but the others were mostly dry and I couldn't find a rhythm. I lost time in the slow corners because I slid wide too often.

“This afternoon most of the stages are repeats so there should be a clean line and I will have the advantage of seeing the braking points. We'll make the car set-up harder in service to match the conditions."

Meanwhile the biggest mover was Loeb and with two stage wins this morning he moved from fifth to second, closing the gap to Latvala from 24.4 seconds down to just 3.5 seconds - almost half a second per kilometre.

“I had to really try hard. It was a very fast, very beautiful stage. I just keep pushing,” said Loeb. “I really enjoyed that one [SS16], very muddy and fast! I am just happy to take time from Latvala.”

Hirvonen claimed the win on the day's first stage, Dayco 1, jumping him up to third place in the process and closing the gap to team-mate Latvala from 23.6 to 7.9 seconds: “We went wide at one point and I hit a mailbox. It is very, very slippery. This rally is going to be a big fight!” he predicted.

Ogier has suffered most from the slippery conditions. Second on the road today, his Citroen lost 15 seconds to the leader on Dayco 1, the day's longest stage at 20.31km but it wasn't all down to the conditions.




Related Pictures

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Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Miikka Anttila (FIN) Ford Focus RS WRC09, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
21.05.2017 - 1st place Sébastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team, 2nd place Thierry Neuville (BEL)-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport and 3rd place Dani Sordo (ESP)-Marc Marti (ESP),Hyundai i2 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
21.05.2017 - Fabio Andolfi (ITA) Manuel Fenoli (ITA) HYUNDAI i20 R5, ACI TEAM ITALIA
21.05.2017 - HIROKI ARAI (JPN) - GLENN MACNEALL (AUS) FORD FIESTA R5, TOMMI MÄKINEN RACING
21.05.2017 - HIROKI ARAI (JPN) - GLENN MACNEALL (AUS) FORD FIESTA R5, TOMMI MÄKINEN RACING
21.05.2017 - TEEMU SUNINEN (FIN) - MIKKO MARKKULA (FIN) FORD FIESTA R5, M-SPORT WORLD RALLY TEAM
21.05.2017 - Pontus Tidemand (SWE)-Jonas Andersson (SWE) Skoda Fabia R5 WRC2, Skoda Motorsport
21.05.2017 - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)-Anders Jaeger (NOR) SKODA FABIA R5, SKODA MOTORSPORT
21.05.2017 - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)-Anders Jaeger (NOR) SKODA FABIA R5, SKODA MOTORSPORT
21.05.2017 - JEAN-MICHEL RAOUX (FRA) - THOMAS ESCARTEFIGUE (FRA) CITROEN DS3 WRC
21.05.2017 - Valeriy Gorban (UKR)-Sergei Larens (EST) BMW‐Mini John Cooper Works, Eurolamp World Rally Team
21.05.2017 - Martin Prokop (CZE) - Jan Tomanek (CZE) Ford Fiesta RS WRC, ONEBET JIPOCAR WORLD RALLY TEAM
21.05.2017 - Martin Prokop (CZE) - Jan Tomanek (CZE) Ford Fiesta RS WRC, ONEBET JIPOCAR WORLD RALLY TEAM
21.05.2017 - SHEIK KHALID AL QASSIMI (ARE) - CHRIS PATTERSON (GBR) CITROEN C3 WRC, CITROËN TOTAL ABU DHABI WRT
21.05.2017 - SHEIK KHALID AL QASSIMI (ARE) - CHRIS PATTERSON (GBR) CITROEN C3 WRC, CITROËN TOTAL ABU DHABI WRT
21.05.2017 - Mads Ostberg (NOR)-Ola Floene (NOR) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team
21.05.2017 - Mads Ostberg (NOR)-Ola Floene (NOR) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team
21.05.2017 - Essapeka Lappi (FIN) Janne Ferm (FIN), TOYOTA YARIS WRC, TOYOTA GAZOO RACING WRT

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