15 November 2013
Wales Rally GB: Ogier pulls ahead
Sebastien Ogier remains top in Wales; Jari-Matti Latvala moves up to second, taking 4.6 seconds out of Ogier in SS6; Thierry Neuville drops to third, 21.9 seconds further back; Robert Kubica and Mikko Hirvonen both crash out...
Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier has extended his lead on Wales Rally GB this morning and he now heads to the remote mid-day service in Newtown with a 13.5 second cushion.
Following the three night stages last night, Ogier had a 3.2 second advantage and he stretched that to 12.9 seconds in SS4, the first test of the day, the 32.14 km-run through Hafren 1, when he took his third stage win of the event. The Frenchman was then second in both SS5 and SS6, 1.2 seconds behind Dani Sordo in Sweet Lamb 1 and 4.6 seconds off team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala in Myherin 1.
“It was okay,” Ogier said after SS6. “I had no splits in that test and had the wrong rhythm. But no drama – it's not too bad.”
Latvala meanwhile went for it in the final test of the loop, taking his first stage win of the event and moving up into P2 overall and ahead of Qatar World Rally Team man, Thierry Neuville: “I really pushed hard in there [SS6], not much margin to push harder!” Jari-Matti stated. “It was very slippery at the start but I started to get a good rhythm towards the end. I went a little bit softer with the suspension.”
Neuville began the day well and was second in SS4. However he struggled in SS5 and SS6 and is now 21.9 seconds off Latvala and 35.4 seconds off Ogier.
“We were quite close to the leaders on the first stage, setting the second fastest time, but they are setting a very fast pace now," he said. "On the last stage I lost all the confidence. I couldn't imagine how slippery it actually was so we just concentrated on not making a mistake. If we stay in this position, we are still second in the championship so all is good.”
Mads Ostberg holds fourth, gaining a place in Myherin 1 when Citroen's Mikko Hirvonen rolled out in his DS3 WRC. The Finn had been 17.4 seconds in front, when he went off. Hirvonen and co-driver, Jarmo Lehtinen both escaped unharmed.
It was a bad morning for Citroen, as Robert Kubica also crashed out in his Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT-entered car. The Pole had been running seventh when he also rolled his DS3 WRC, albeit in the first test of the day.
It is not yet known if Hirvonen and Kubica will be able to re-start on Saturday under the Rally 2 regulations.
Behind, Evgeny Novikov completes the top-five, 10.2 seconds off his Qatar M-Sport team-mate, while Andreas Mikkelsen is just 1.2 seconds back in sixth in the Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC.
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