Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala has taken over at the head of the pack on the Acropolis Rally of Greece, after overnight leader, Evgeny Novikov picked up a puncture in SS4 and slipped back.

Latvala began the second leg in third place, 39.1 seconds adrift of Novikov and 8.8 seconds off Dani Sordo in P2. However in the opening test of the day he immediately moved into second, setting the joint quickest time with Novikov.

The Finn then gained another place in Gyhmno, when his Russian rival had to stop and replace the right rear tyre, losing over four minutes. That left Latvala with a 15.6 second lead, something he increased to 18.8 seconds in SS5, when he took his third stage win in a row.

Although Sordo fought back in SS6 and was fastest, Latvala was only 0.1 seconds slower, and he now heads back to the mid-day service with an 18.7 second cushion.

"Everything is alright," Latvala remarked after SS6. "I hope it won't rain this afternoon. I am pretty happy with the car now. We could make a little bit of an improvement with the differential, but it is OK. Sometimes the car, coming out of corners isn't behaving exactly as I would like and is understeering a bit, but it is fine."

Qatar World Rally Team runner Thierry Neuville meanwhile is on course for the final spot on the podium, albeit 52.1 seconds off Sordo - and over 1.5 minutes up on team-mate, Nasser Al-Attiyah in fourth.

"I think that we had a nice mix of stages this morning - some are very rough some a very fast and there is one with a very sandy, twisting section. There are a lot of different stages so you can never have the perfect set-up for all of them but so far I have been happy with the car," Neuville said.

"We had a small problem with the brakes because I over-heated them yesterday, but other than that everything has been OK and I think that we are driving well. Evgeny was very unlucky because he was setting great pace at the front of the field. But this rallying and, unfortunately, sometimes these things can happen."

Al-Attiyah moved ahead of VW third driver, Andreas Mikkelsen in the final test of the loop, as the latter was slowed by mechanical issues: "We didn't have brakes - not even the handbrake," Mikkelsen confirmed. "We were trying to reduce speed [by] downshifting gears. I am so glad that we are going to the service now."

Next up is Martin Prokop, while Mads Ostberg and Mikko Hirvonen have both recovered from their woes in SS1 on Friday to lie seventh and eighth. Ostberg would have been one place higher, but a steering arm worked loose in SS5 and he conceded about a minute.

"The first stage [SS3] was OK, but then on the second one [SS4] we had a lot of over-steer. At first I thought it might be something with the rear differential which is something that we can usually change, but it wasn't so I'm not sure what it was," Ostberg stated.

"Then on the next one [SS5], I couldn't feel anything wrong on the road section, but almost immediately after the stage started I felt that the car was pulling strangely out of the hairpins. After that it just got worse really quickly as the steering arm had become lose. We don't have the equipment to measure the toe in the rally car so we just had to fix it with what we thought looked correct. I think it was quite close to where it was supposed to be as we set a good time on the last stage [SS6]."

Behind, Khalid Al-Qassimi and Robert Kubica round out the top ten, the latter still on course for the WRC2 class win.

Of the rest, Novikov is eleventh, having lost more time in SS5 and SS6 with damage to the suspension and brakes on his Fiesta. Sebastien Ogier lies 15th, having re-started under Rally 2 this morning in 23rd position.

"On the second stage [SS4] - maybe one kilometre from the start - we hit a sharp rock which broke the wheel," Novikov recalled. "We drove for a while and then all the other pieces came off and broke the brake disc and some of the suspension also. We changed the wheel, but we couldn't do anything more. We just had to keep going.

"I don't want to say that it was bad luck, it is just the way it is. I was not pushing hard so I think that it is just one of those things. There is still a long way to go so we will try to keep the same pace that we were setting this morning [on SS3] and see where we finish at the end."

Day two now concludes this afternoon with a repeat run through this morning's four stages. SS7, Klenia Mycenae 2, is due to start at 15.10 hours local time [13.10 hours UK time].

Acropolis Rally of Greece: Overall standings after Stage 6 (Top 10):

1. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 1hour 42mins 15.5secs M
2. Dani Sordo Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +18.7s M
3. Thierry Neuville Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 10.8s M
4. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2m 54.4s M
5. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +3m 15.7s M
6. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +4m 13.9s M
7. Mads Ostberg Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +4m 48.6s M
8. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +6m 29.9s M
9. Khalid Al-Qassimi Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +6m 49.8s M
10. Robert Kubica Citroen DS3 RRC +7m 26.3s WRC2


11. Evgeny Novikov Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC 7mins 57.2secs M
12. Yuriy Protasov Ford Fiesta RRC +9m 04.8s WRC2
15. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +10m 22.5s M

WRC2 standings after Stage 6 (Top 3):

1. Robert Kubica Citroen DS3 RRC 1hour 49mins 41.8secs WRC2
2. Yuriy Protasov Ford Fiesta RRC +1m 38.5s WRC2
3. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari Ford Fiesta RRC +1m 44.4s WRC2

JWRC standings after Stage 6 (Top 3):

1. Jose Antonio Suarez Ford Fiesta R2 2hours 02mins 42.9secs JWRC
2. Pontus Tidemand Ford Fiesta R2 +1m 59.0s JWRC
3. Murat Bostanci Ford Fiesta R2 +6m 25.3s JWRC

Notable retirements:

SS1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC Technical problem M*

*denotes able to re-start under the Rally 2 regulations

all times unofficial