BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team man Jari-Matti Latvala remains on course to win Rally Finland following the middle loop today, although Sebastien Ogier has cut the Finn's advantage.
Latvala, who went into SS15 with a 22.5 second cushion, was only fifth fastest through Leustu 1. However, he was closer to the pace in SS16, setting the third best time, before then going second fastest in SS17.
He will now go into the final loop with a 10.6 second lead and only two stages stand between him and that 'dream' home win.
"The first two stages had a lot of loose gravel on the surface while the last stage, which we had already driven, was cleaner but heavily rutted," said Latvala. "I lost time on the loose gravel and while the last stage was better, the ruts made it hard to drive. It's not easy, but it's a good battle and the drivers behind will attack all the way to the finish. I'm nervous because the lead isn't as big as I would like."
Ogier meanwhile, despite being told not to take any risks, was right on the pace, second quickest in both SS15 and SS16 and fastest in SS17. That allowed him to not only close on the lead, but also stretch the margin from P2 to P3 from 6.1 seconds post-SS14 to 13 seconds post-Surkee 2.
Sebastien Loeb is next up and third, having moved ahead of Petter Solberg in SS16. Loeb was fastest in the first two tests and now lies 5.4 seconds up on the Norwegian, who is also competing in a Citroen C4 WRC, albeit a privately entered one.
Dani Sordo remains comfortably on course for fifth, with Britain's Matthew Wilson a distant sixth and Mads Ostberg now seventh and in front of WRC legend, Juha Kankkunen, following three sixth quickest times.
SWRC class leader, Juho Hanninen and fellow Skoda Fabia S2000 man P-G Andersson complete the top ten, the former heading the class by 50.6 seconds, while Ott Tanak remains in control of the PWRC – and 16th overall.
Rally Finland now concludes with a final loop of two stages, the first - the 21.35 kilometre Leustu 2 test, SS18 - starting at 16.23 hours local time.
Rally Finland: Overall standings after Stage 17 (Top 10):
1. Jari-Matti Latvala
BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC 2hours 11mins 13.0secs
2. Sebastien Ogier
Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC +00mins 10.6secs
3. Sebastien Loeb
Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC +00mins 23.6secs
4. Petter Solberg
PSWRT Citroen C4 WRC +00mins 29.0secs
5. Dani Sordo
Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC +01mins 16.7secs
6. Matthew Wilson
Stobart VK Ford Focus WRC +05mins 00.0secs
7. Mads Ostberg
Adapta Subaru Impreza WRC +05mins 32.8secs
8. Juha Kankkunen
Stobart VK Ford Focus WRC +06mins 16.1secs
9. Juho Hanninen
Skoda Fabia S2000 +07mins 35.9secs
10. P-G Andersson
Skoda Fabia S2000 +08mins 26.5secs
11. Patrik Sandell
Skoda Fabia S2000 +09mins 02.8secs
12. Toni Gardemeister
Ford Fiesta S2000 +09mins 22.1secs
29. Kimi Raikkonen
Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC +22mins 15.6secs
SWRC Standings after Stage 17 (Top 3):
1. Juho Hanninen
Skoda Fabia S2000 2hours 18mins 48.9secs
2. P-G Andersson
Skoda Fabia S2000 +00mins 50.6secs
3. Patrik Sandell
Skoda Fabia S2000 +01mins 26.9secs
PWRC Standings after Stage 17 (Top 3):
1. Ott Tanak
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 2hours 23mins 50.9secs
2. Jukka Ketomaki
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +01mins 43.2secs
3. Hayden Paddon
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +02mins 30.8secs
SS4. Mikko Hirvonen
BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC Crashed.
SS6. Khalid Al-Qassimi
BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC Went off
SS8. Henning Solberg
Stobart VK Ford Focus WRC Went off.
all times unofficial