7 February 2014
Rally Sweden: Latvala extends lead
Jari-Matti Latvala completes the repeat loop with a 4.8 second lead over Andreas Mikkelsen; Mads Ostberg holds third followed by Mikko Hirvonen and Ott Tanak; Sebastien Ogier is now up to tenth...
Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala has extended his lead on Rally Sweden following the afternoon loop.
Latvala began the repeat runs just 1.6 seconds up on team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, but soon stretched that to 6.6 seconds in SS12, when he was second quickest to Sebastien Ogier, the Frenchman having lost his position at the head of the leaderboard this morning when he went off and put his Polo R WRC in a snowbank.
Latvala was then second again in SS13 and SS14 – with Ogier quickest – to stretch his lead to 10.1 seconds and while Latvala struggled in SS15 and was only 18th quickest as his tyres were too worn, he still heads to service E with his lead increased. Indeed going into the Karlstad super special tonight, he has a 4.8 second cushion.
“We lost a lot of time in there [SS15] as the tyres are bad,” Latvala explained. “It is not a nice feeling to lose so much on a super special, but that's the way it is. We need to be really focused tomorrow now.”
Latvala also revealed that he had a slight scare in SS14: “When you are fighting you might have a little moment but if that's all then it's okay,” he added. “We had a little moment and lost a bit of front bumper but no problem.”
Mikkelsen, meanwhile, it seems isn't prepared to go all out for the win: “We could have gone faster [in SS15] but then you have to take risks. I have never been on the podium [in the WRC] before in my life so to do that here would be nice,” he noted.
Behind, Citroen's Mads Ostberg has consolidated third and now has an 18.1 second cushion over M-Sport WRT man Mikko Hirvonen. Ott Tanak rounds out the top five, 6.1 seconds further back.
Next up is Britain's Kris Meeke in a very respectable sixth on his first outing in Sweden. Pontus Tidemand, who picked up a puncture in SS12, lies seventh, followed by Henning Solberg, Crash.net columnist Elfyn Evans and the recovering Ogier.
In WRC2, Yazeed Al-Rajhi has pulled further ahead of Jari Ketomaa and now has a 1 minute 38.7 second lead. Karl Kruuda completes the WRC2 top-three.
In terms of retirements, Hyundai's Thierry Neuville and Juho Hanninen both hit problems in Lesjofors. Neuville went out on the first-run through the test, as SS8 – he had been running in P7, while Hanninen was sidelined on the repeat. Hanninen was also running in the points and had climbed to sixth.
There were no other significant retirements - although Robert Kubica had a torrid afternoon losing more than 20 minutes with offs in SS12 and SS14. The former F1 man has subsequently gone from P10 to P29 in his RK M-Sport WRT-run Fiesta RS WRC.
Day two of Rally Sweden now concludes with another go through the short 1.90km Karlstad super special. It is due to start at 19.00 hours local time [18.00 hours UK time].
Rally Sweden: Overall standings after Stage 15 (Top 10):
1. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 1hr 47m 09.7s M
2. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +00m 04.8s M
3. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +00m 42.3s M
4. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01m 00.4s M
5. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01m 06.5s
6. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +02m 27.7s M
7. Pontus Tidemand Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 43.7s
8. Henning Solberg Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 45.7s
9. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03m 36.7s M
10. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +03m 39.1s M
11. Craig Breen Ford Fiesta RS WRC +04m 47.9s
12. Yazeed Al-Rajhi Ford Fiesta RRC +06m 32.0s WRC2
13. Jari Ketomaa Drive DMACK WRT Ford Fiesta R5 +08m 10.7s WRC2
14. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +08m 15.3s M
15. Karl Kruuda Ford Fiesta S2000 +08m 58.6s WRC2
16. Fredrik Ahlin Ford Fiesta R5 +09m 21.4s WRC2
17. Yuriy Protasov Ford Fiesta R5 +09m 35.5s WRC2
18. Khalid Al-Qassimi Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +09m 45.3s M
29. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +24m 16.6s M
WRC2 standings after Stage 15 (Top 3):
1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi Ford Fiesta RRC 1hr 53m 41.7s WRC2
2. Jari Ketomaa Drive DMACK WRT Ford Fiesta R5 +01m 38.7s WRC2
3. Karl Kruuda Ford Fiesta S2000 +02m 26.6s WRC2
SS8. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC Hit a rock M
SS11. Anders Grondal Subaru Impreza STi N16 Engine WRC2
SS12. Juho Hanninen Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC Pulled front right wheel off M
all times unofficial
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