Citroen's Sebastien Loeb has increased his lead on Wales Rally GB and he now heads into the mid-day service with the gap up to 7.3 seconds.
Loeb started the day only 1.1 seconds ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala, but he gained almost 6 seconds in the very first stage this morning, the 32.14 km Hafren 1 test, when his rival overshot a junction and stalled. It was then nip and tuck in the next two tests, with Latvala 0.3 seconds quicker in Sweet Lamb, before Loeb edged him by 0.7 seconds in Myherin.
“Jari-Matti was very fast at the start [of SS12] so I changed my rhythm but then he made a mistake,” Loeb said. “It was very muddy in the next test [Sweet Lamb]. I made a few mistakes but the feeling is good.”
“There was a really muddy section at a hairpin [in SS12] which I attacked too hard and slipped under braking,” Latvala explained. “I panicked a little bit and went straight up an access road and stalled.
“I pushed hard [in SS14] and I am angry with myself because I was not any faster. When you are trying to beat an eight times World Champion it is difficult but not impossible,” added the Ford man.
Mads Ostberg meanwhile is a lonely third, almost 2 minutes off the fight for the win and a similar amount up on his M-Sport Stobart Ford team-mate Henning Solberg in fourth.
“I'm not secure in third,” said Ostberg after struggling a bit in SS13. “I've got no confidence. I'm feeling a bit stressed - and that's not a good stage to be on and off the brakes if you don't need to be. But the sun is shining so it's not all bad...”
Matt Wilson completes the top five, another minute or so back from his team-mate, despite a scare in Sweet Lamb when he hit a rock: “We were very lucky as there was a massive rock on the left side near the finish that sent the car into the air but luckily we stayed on the road,” Wilson recounted.
Fellow Brit Kris Meeke is sixth in his MINI WRT John Cooper Works WRC car. Meeke had a bad morning and lost time with mechanical issues: “We have no turbo and the engine mount is broken and we have intermittent gear change,” he confirmed after SS14. “I have kept my throttle down since the start but we just have no power. Hopefully it can be fixed at service.”
Further back Dennis Kuipers is seventh, while Ott Tanak, Evgeny Novikov and Ken Block hold positions 8 through to 10.
In the PWRC, Patrik Flodin remains on course for the class honours, now just under 4 minutes up on Martin Semerad.
In terms of retirements, the morning loop claimed two notable victims - namely Petter Solberg and F1 2007 world champion, Kimi Raikkonen. Petter was forced out on the road section to Hafren 1 due to a broken fuel pump, while Kimi went out after going into a ditch in SS12.
Saturday's action now concludes this afternoon with a repeat-run through this morning's three stages. SS15, Hafren 2, is due to start at 13.51 hours local time.
Wales Rally GB: Overall standings after Stage 14 - Top 10:
1. Sebastien Loeb
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 2hours 00mins 30.8secs
2. Jari-Matti Latvala
Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 07.3secs
3. Mads Ostberg
M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 51.0secs
4. Henning Solberg
M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +04mins 06.1secs
5. Matthew Wilson
M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +05mins 16.6secs
6. Kris Meeke
MINI WRT John Cooper Works +05mins 21.8secs
7. Dennis Kuipers
FERM Powertools Ford Fiesta RS WRC +06mins 14.1secs
8. Ott Tanak
M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +06mins 17.2secs
9. Evgeny Novikov
Team Abu Dhabi Fiesta RS WRC +07mins 13.2secs
10. Ken Block
Monster WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +10mins 11.1secs
11. Armindo Araujo
Motorsport Italia MINI John Cooper Works +10mins 59.5secs
12. Haydon Paddon
Subaru Impreza STi R4 +11mins 08.7secs
13. Kevin Abbring
VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +11mins 11.8secs
14. Patrik Flodin
Subaru Impreza +12mins 47.9secs
PWRC standings after Stage 14 - Top 3:
1. Patrik Flodin
Subaru Impreza 2hours 13mins 08.7secs
2. Martin Semerad
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +03mins 59.2secs
3. Jason Pritchard
Subaru Impreza +05mins 15.7secs
SS1. Sebastien Ogier
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC Hit a wall and ripped off a wheel
SS5. Dani Sordo
MINI WRT John Cooper Works Went off
SS5. Peter van Merksteijn
Van Merksteijn Citroen DS3 WRC Went off
SS6. Martin Prokop
Ford Fiesta RS WRC Went off
SS7. Mikko Hirvonen
Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC Went off
SS7. Bader Al-Jabri
Subaru Impreza Went off
SS11. Jarkko Nikara
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX Went off
SS12. Petter Solberg
PSWRT Citroen DS3 WRC Broken fuel pump
SS12/13. Kimi Raikkonen
ICE1 Racing Citroen DS3 WRC Went off
*denotes re-started under SupeRally
all times unofficial