Latvala pulls out a cushion in Wales

Hirvonen had been hoping to challenge for the win this weekend [see our exclusive pre-event interview with him - HERE]. But he has been quite a bit off the pace and on current form looks like he is going to struggle to get on the podium.

“We are definitely short on grip on this fine layer of greasy mud,” Hirvonen said. “From my side, I made a mistake in trying to look after my tyres for the rest of the rally. I should have done the same as Seb and switched the tyres around for the last two stages.”

Ott Tanak is next up and sixth for the M-Sport Ford WRT, although he has had power steering problems all day. He also reported an issue with the right rear in SS6 and is thus quite a distant sixth, with team-mate, Evgeny Novikov seventh and Citroen Junior WRT man Thierry Neuville eighth.

“The stages were a bit better on the second loop – it wasn't so rough any more, it was quite smooth,” Tanak stated. “The car was feeling quite nice to drive and we are starting to get the feeling back on gravel again now. We will see what the weather will do tomorrow but for sure I am hoping we can push a little bit more and set some good times.”

“This afternoon was OK,” Novikov added, “but we took six tyres with two soft spares which we put on the front of the car for the second stage [SS5]. This was not such a good idea – the balance of the car was off and it meant that there was a lot of 'sideways'. But apart from that everything is fine. The car is working well and I am really enjoying the stages.”

Matthew Wilson and Martin Prokop round out the provisional points scorers at this stage, the former making his first appearance in the WRC since Monte Carlo all the way back in January.

“Today has been pretty frustrating in a way. But it has also been good – we have learnt quite a bit. The middle stage [SS5] was good again and we were much better through the last one [SS6] than we were this morning,” Wilson said. “Generally today has been OK. We are about where we expected to be and tomorrow we will just try to push and see where we will be.The only thing is that obviously we are going to be fairly early on the road and it could be fairly loose with the road clearing quite a lot behind. Hopefully we'll get some rain tonight and it might make things a bit easier!”

Of the rest, Chris Atkinson has opted to take it cautiously on his first run with the WRC MINI Team Portugal outfit on gravel, and he is eleventh, ahead of the VW Motorsport runner, Sebastien Ogier in his Skoda Fabia S2000, then Nasser Al-Attiyah and SWRC class leader, Craig Breen. Breen heads the SWRC by over a 1 minute post-SS6, with Yazeed Al-Rajhi second in the class and Tom Cave third.

In terms of retirements, Per-Gunnar Andersson and Haydon Paddon were probably the most notable casualties today. Andersson, who heads the SWRC classification, went out in SS2 after losing a wheel, while Paddon, his chief championship rival, was sidelined by mechanical gremlins.

Wales Rally GB now continues on Saturday, with another two loops of three stages on the bill, plus the short 3.04 km Celtic Manor test at the end of the day. Leg two includes 95.36 competitive kilometres in total, with SS7, Crychan 1, due to start at 09.02 hours local time.

Wales Rally GB: Overall standings after Stage 6 (Top 10):

1. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC 1hour 25mins 05.7secs M
2. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 12.1secs M
3. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00mins 21.3secs M
4. Mads Ostberg Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 32.6secs M
5. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00mins 53.8secs M
6. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 19.2secs M
7. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 32.8secs M
8. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC +02mins 27.9secs M
9. Matthew Wilson M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +03mins 17.0secs
10. Martin Prokop Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03mins 36.8secs


11. Chris Atkinson WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +04mins 11.6secs
12. Sebastien Ogier VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +04mins 19.0secs
13. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC +05mins 09.7secsM
14. Craig Breen Ford Fiesta S2000 +05mins 31.2secs S
15. Kevin Abbring VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +05mins 49.6secs
18. Jannie Habig M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +07mins 57.5s
20. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +11mins 00.5secs

SWRC standings after Stage 6 - Top 3:

1. Craig Breen Ford Fiesta S2000 1hour 30mins 36.9secs S
2. Yazeed Al-Rajhi Ford Fiesta S2000 +01mins 14.0secs S
3. Tom Cave Proton Satria Neo S2000 +02mins 26.1secs S

Notable retirements:

SS2. Per-Gunnar Andersson Proton Satria Neo S2000 Lost a wheel S
SS2/3. Alastair Fisher Ford Fiesta S2000 Suspension damage S
SS3/SS4. Haydon Paddon Skoda Fabia S2000 Mechanical S

all times unofficial

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Miikka Anttila (FIN), Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Ford World Rally Team
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Miikka Anttila (FIN), Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Ford World Rally Team
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Miikka Anttila (FIN), Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Ford World Rally Team

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September 14, 2012 9:10 PM

@craig Yes it does matter. The series need more interest and that comes with more challenges. Citroen/Loeb might be virtual champions already, but who besides true fans would want to watch a season where 1 guy is smashing the competition all the way in the future. As for Ford, they might need lot of things, but I don't think the drivers let them down this year, especially Solberg.

Nanbawan - Unregistered

September 14, 2012 11:32 PM

I think the Fords are genuinely faster there in these conditions. Loeb will be happy to take a good result home and not throw everything away if he can't improve.

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