16 November 2013
Wales Rally GB: Ogier top at end of day three in Wales
Sebastien Ogier will take a 20.3 second lead over Jari-Matti Latvala into the final day of Wales Rally GB; Thierry Neuville completes the provisional podium, ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen and Mads Ostberg.
Volkswagen number one Sebastien Ogier has concluded day three of Wales Rally GB with a 20.3 second lead over team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala.
Ogier started the third day with a 20.1 second advantage and while it ebbed and flowed, with Ogier initially pulling further ahead and then Latvala putting him under a pressure with three stages win in a row in SS12, SS13 and SS14, it finished with the two split by pretty much the same margin.
"My plan was to keep Jari-Matti at the same distance and that is what we have done," Ogier remarked after the delayed second run through the 2.06 km Chirk Castle super special. "[Overall] I am happy with my day. Wales Rally GB is never finished though until the end. It is a tricky event."
"I am happy with the way we handled this long day today," Ogier continued back in service. "It was a good clean performance without any major mistakes. Surprisingly, the grip was better on most of today's stages than it was on Friday. For us, it was all about maintaining a steady lead over our team-mate Jari-Matti, and we did that perfectly. As such, we did not have to take too many risks and took a rather cautious approach to the many new stages. A 20-second lead is, to a certain degree, reassuring. However, we will have to stay wide awake if Jari-Matti pushes hard again tomorrow. If not, you can be out before you know it - and I definitely want to make it to the finish this time. That would be the perfect end to a perfect season."
Latvala meanwhile was less happy and having taken 9.2 seconds out of Ogier in the 'middle loop', he then lost 3.2 seconds in SS15 and SS16: "It was a very up and down day," said the Finn. "I don't know why I didn't have the feeling this morning. I really need to concentrate on that tomorrow morning. You need to have a perfect run if you want to beat Ogier."
"Our goal for today was to push hard again and put some pressure on Seb. Unfortunately the morning's stages did not go quite as we had hoped," Latvala added. "On the one hand, I was lacking a little bit of confidence to go flat out from the start and find a good rhythm. Then we had also marked too many places as slippery when we did the recce prior to the rally. As a result, I hesitated a little a few times during the first loop.
"Things went better for us later on, and we won three special stages. However, Seb and Julien [Ingrassia, his co-driver] were barely slower than us and able to maintain their lead. We only have about another 50 kilometres of special stage to go on Sunday. Barring something out of the ordinary, it will no longer be possible to make up that much ground. Despite this, I will try to keep up both my pace and the pressure."
Thierry Neuville is next up and set for the final place on the podium in his Qatar World Rally Team-run Ford Fiesta RS WRC car, albeit over 50 seconds off P2 and over a minute off the leader.
"I think the whole day has been quite good for us," said Neuville. "There was one stage that we had to discover and we lost about ten seconds in 20 kilometres, but it was new for us so that was quite normal. The stages are really beautiful, especially the first two this morning. They are not the easiest for sure, but really enjoyable."
Wales Rally GB
Polo R WRC
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