26 October 2013
Rally de Espana: Latvala concludes day two on top
Jari-Matti Latvala ends Saturday's action with a 1.6 second lead over Dani Sordo; Thierry Neuville holds third with Sebastian Ogier, Evgeny Novikov and Mikko Hirvonen rounding out the top six
Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala will take a slender 1.6 second lead into the final day of Rally de Espana, when the action switches to gravel, with the Finn getting the dubious honour of running first on the road.
Latvala and Sordo were neck and neck throughout much of the second leg and after overnight leader, Sebastien Ogier picked up a puncture in SS6 and lost over 50 seconds, the duo went into the mid-day halt tied for P1.
On the second loop this afternoon there was again nothing between them, although tactics did come into play in SS8, with Sordo admitting he had eased off in order to ensure he wouldn't have to act as the principal road sweeper on Sunday.
“Of course I'm pleased to be leading in the Rally Spain at the end of day two,” said Latvala, who was quickest in three of the day's six stages, including the final one, the short 2.24 km Salou super special. “But the terrain is about to change from asphalt to gravel now. It's not an easy situation because I'll have to open the route as the leading driver, meaning I'll clear the ideal line for the cars behind me.
“All the same, we didn't spend a single second today driving tactically – instead, we tried to secure ourselves a bit of a lead. I hope that the weather will give me a bit of extra help tomorrow and the damp will improve grip, at least first thing in the morning. It is certainly set to be exciting because four drivers could still win. We'll have to give 100 per cent if we want to stay in the running.”
“I think we have had a great race up to this point and we have achieved our objective of staying behind Jari-Matti,” Sordo added. “The final outcome is however far from decided, with Neuville, Ogier, Hirvonen and Novikov all not far behind.
“It is difficult to know who has the best position, but I do know that we'll have to push as hard as possible tomorrow! It'll be difficult, because gravel really isn't my favourite surface, but I'll fight to try and win.”
Behind, Thierry Neuville lies third in his Qatar World Rally Team Fiesta RS WRC, almost 30 seconds off the battle for the lead, and 17.2 seconds up on Ogier in fourth.
“I think it is fair to say that this morning, the times just weren't there. We tried to minimise the gap to the guys in front, but the set-up wasn't really working for us and we were losing time on every stage,” Neuville said. “After speaking with the team, we made some changes to the set-up in [midday] service and immediately the car felt great and our confidence was right back to what it had been in the previous events. It was a lot easier to fight with the other drivers and the three points in the Power Stage were very important for the championship.
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