Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala continues to lead Rally Finland despite intercom problems in SS25, the penultimate test of the event.
Latvala built up a 30-odd second advantage on Saturday morning, only to lose it in the afternoon when he hit a large pothole and damaged the brakes. That allowed team-mate, Sebastien Ogier to close to within 3.4 seconds.
Latvala was quickest in the opening test today though, beating Ogier by 1.6 seconds. He then lost out, however, in SS25, and while still second quickest, conceded 1.3 seconds to stage winner and rival Ogier. That means the two will go into the event ending Power Stage, a repeat run through the 6.79 km Ruuhimaki test, with just 3.7 seconds between them.
“I never drove that like that before, I didn't lift at all, flat out,” said Latvala after SS24. “I took some lines slightly wrong, jumping on the wrong lines but we did OK. I said last night I came here to win this rally and to give something to the Finnish fans and that's my focus now.”
Speaking after SS25, he added: “I'm happy that we got to the finish of the stage. My helmet is not right, the intercom is broken on the right hand side. I'm happy with that time though. We still have some seconds and we are still in the lead and that's what counts!”
Ogier meanwhile is playing it cool: “Without a mistake on this one [SS25] we could never make a difference on Jari. But I really enjoyed it.
“Of course I will drive fast [in the final test] but without a mistake victory is gone but I have second place,” continued the Frenchman, who leads Latvala in the Drivers' Championship by 50 points.
Citroen's Kris Meeke is next up and on course for the final spot on the podium, 44.9 seconds back, with VW Motorsport II man Andreas Mikkelsen fourth and Mikko Hirvonen fifth for the M-Sport WRT. Mikkelsen is about a minute off Meeke and almost a minute up on Hirvonen.
Juho Hanninen is now the lead Hyundai in sixth, gaining a place after team-mate Hayden Paddon was slowed by power steering problems. Paddon has dropped to eighth, with Elfyn Evans the other beneficiary.
Behind, Henning Solberg holds ninth, with WRC2 class leader Karl Kruuda now set to take the final point in tenth.
Craig Breen, who was ninth overnight, was forced to withdraw from the event this morning after injuring his back in SS24 when he landed heavily after a jump.
Rally Finland now concludes with SS26 - Ruuhimaki 2 - scheduled to run at 13.08 hours local time [11.08 hours UK time].
Rally Finland: Overall standings after Stage 25 (Top 10):
1. Jari-Matti Latvala
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 2hours 54mins 07.1secs
2. Sebastien Ogier
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 03.7s
3. Kris Meeke
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +00m 48.6s
4. Andreas Mikkelsen
Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +01m 50.2s
5. Mikko Hirvonen
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 46.0s
6. Juho Hanninen
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +04m 24.4s
7. Elfyn Evans
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +05m 20.1s
8. Hayden Paddon
Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +05m 46.8s
9. Henning Solberg
Ford Fiesta RS WRC +11m 59.2s
10. Karl Kruuda
Ford Fiesta S2000 +14m 25.0s
11. Jari Ketomaa
Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta R5 +16m 38.2s
12. Ott Tanak
Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta R5 +17m 02.9s
13. Yazeed Al-Rajhi
Ford Fiesta RRC +18m 53.9s
14. Eyvind Brynildsen
Ford Fiesta RRC +21m 28.1s
WRC2 standings after Stage 25 (Top 3):
1. Karl Kruuda
Ford Fiesta S2000 3hours 08mins 32.1s
2. Jari Ketomaa
Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta R5 +02m 13.2s
3. Ott Tanak
Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta R5 +02m 37.9s
SS3. Jarkko Nikara
Ford Fiesta RS WRC Went off the road
SS5. Robert Kubica
RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Went off the road
SS6. Oleksiy Kikireshko
Ford Fiesta R5 Accident
SS8/9. Thierry Neuville
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC Accident
SS9. Michal Solowow
Ford Fiesta RS WRC Mechanical
SS11. Martin Prokop
Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC Crashed
SS16. Sebastien Chardonnet
Citroen DS3 R5 Retired
SS18/SS19. Mads Ostberg
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC Rollcage damage
SS24/SS25. Craig Breen
Ford Fiesta RS WRC Injury
M denotes Manufacturer entry
*denotes re-started under Rally 2 on Saturday
all times unofficial