Mikko Hirvonen has slashed Sebastien Loeb's lead on the Rally of Great Britain by more than half on the afternoon's run through Hafren forest, SS4.

After trailing Loeb by nearly nine seconds following the morning loop, Hirvonen has now cut the Frenchman's advantage to 4 seconds.

"I'm going as hard as I can," said Hirvonen, after beating his rival by 4.9 seconds.

Although conditions were a little drier for this afternoon's run through the 20 mile stage, Hirvonen said the road was actually more slippery.

Loeb agreed that conditions were more difficult. Reporting problems with understeer on the Citroen C4, he added: "I couldn't have done any better."

Dani Sordo meanwhile remains in third place ahead of Petter Solberg although the Norwegian was able to reduce the deficit by 1.5 seconds.

Problems persist for Jari-Matti Latvala who was 1m 30s off the pace after breaking a front driver shaft this morning and losing his front brakes.

Also unhappy with his pace was Matthew Wilson. "The car was undriveable", said the Stobart man. "We had understeer in one corner and oversteer in the next."

This morning's final stage saw 17 year old Welsh driver Tom Cave go off into a ditch and roll his Fiesta twice. Ironically, he was pulled out by the very same Land Rover crew who last year towed him into a stage after the icy conditions had defeated him.

The Land Rover crew said they were heading for the Cave family's hotel in Aberdovey and a few free drinks. Cave is hoping to make it back to Cardiff tonight and continue on the event tomorrow.

by Peter Hughes in Rally of Great Britain HQ