Citroen driver Sebastien Loeb managed to increase his advantage on Rally Finland this morning.
Loeb began the third and final day 5 seconds up on his team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen, but the Finn conceded 3.9 seconds in the opening test, Surkee 1, when he went wide and hit a rock and damaged one of his tyres.
Although Hirvonen fought back in the next test and was quickest, he took back only 1.5 seconds and so Seb heads back to service with the margin now up to 7.4 seconds.
“I'm happy with the start to the day,” Loeb said. “This is the most difficult rally with the jumps and all that. I'm happy with the car - it works well. I was confident in the next test too [SS14] but I thought I had a rear left puncture [from about halfway through].”
“The first stage went so bad that I really had to try [in SS14],” Hirvonen added. “We flew so hard at the end...”
Jari-Matti Latvala meanwhile is third, but while he has consolidated that position, with Ford colleague Petter Solberg slipping back after set-up problems in SS13, he has also lost more time to the battling Citroens ahead.
Mads Ostberg is a lonely fifth, over 25 seconds off P4 and 45.3 seconds up on Ott Tanak in sixth. Behind Jari Ketomaa comes in seventh, despite problems with the diff, while Matti Rantanen, Martin Prokop and Sebastien Ogier round out the top ten, the latter gaining a place after Ken Block went off the road in SS14 and retired.
In the support categories P-G Andersson now leads the SWRC, having moved ahead of Craig Breen in Leustu 1, while Elfyn Evans remains on course for the WRC Academy honours.
The action now continues with a repeat run through Surkee and Leustu. SS15 - the 14.95 kilometre Surkee 2 test - is due to start at 11.18 hours local time [09.18 hours UK time].
Rally Finland: Overall standings after Stage 14 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Loeb
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 1hour 39mins 03.4secs
2. Mikko Hirvonen
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00mins 07.4secs
3. Jari-Matti Latvala
Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 24.9secs
4. Petter Solberg
Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 40.0secs
5. Mads Ostberg
Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 06.4secs
6. Ott Tanak
M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 51.7secs
7. Jari Ketomaa
Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03mins 17.6secs
8. Matti Rantanen
Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03mins 32.2secs
9. Martin Prokop
Ford Fiesta RS WRC +04mins 09.3secs
10. Sebastien Ogier
VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +06mins 05.2secs
11. P-G Andersson
Proton Satria Neo S2000 +06mins 53.8secs
12. Craig Breen
Ford Fiesta S2000 +06mins 55.1secs
SWRC standings after Stage 14 - Top 3:
1. P-G Andersson
Proton Satria Neo S2000 1hour 45mins 57.2secs
1. Craig Breen
Ford Fiesta S2000 +00mins 01.3secs
3. Yazeed Al-Rajhi
Ford Fiesta RRC +02mins 21.4secs
SS5. Hayden Paddon
Skoda Fabia S2000 Engine
SS9/SS10. Chris Atkinson
Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC Hit a rock
SS10. Paulo Nobre
WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC Went off the road
SS11. Thierry Neuville
Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC Rolled
SS14. Ken Block
Monster WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Went off the road
* denotes re-started under Rally 2
all times unofficial