WRC Rallye de France: Latvala extends lead with stage hat-trick

Jari-Matti Latvala completes Saturday's first loop on Rallye de France with his lead over Andreas Mikkelsen up from 8.2 seconds to 14.8 seconds; Kris Meeke remains third - 30 seconds up on Dani Sordo, while former F1 driver Robert Kubica is now fifth...
Jari-Matti Latvala won all three stages this morning to increase his advantage on day two of Rallye de France-Alsace.

Latvala began the second leg 8.2 seconds ahead of Volkswagen team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen and he immediately stretched it to 10.9 seconds in SS8, when he was 2.7 seconds up on the Norwegian.

Latvala then went quickest again in SS9 and SS10 and now heads into the 15 minute remote service in Colmar with a 14.8 second cushion.

“There are sections I am familiar with from previous years where I know I can push and others where I have less experience we are being a bit more careful. It was a bit demanding but overall we are driving to a good rhythm,” Latvala noted after Pays Welche-Riquewihr.

Behind the battle at the front, Kris Meeke remains third for Citroen, having stretched his lead over Hyundai's Dani Sordo by a couple of seconds.

Former F1 driver Robert Kubica has climbed to fifth, moving in front of M-Sport team-mate and team leader Mikko Hirvonen in SS8 and then getting Citroen's Mads Ostberg in the following stage. Kubica completed the loop 7.3 seconds off Sordo and 2.9 seconds up on Ostberg, who in turn is 6.6 ahead of Hirvonen.

“It has been a good morning although we had a small mistake in the second stage [SS9]. There was a corner with a cut and a hairpin straight after it. I took the cut and it was really muddy because it was humid. Then it pushed me out of the line and as I tried to recover the car I hit some concrete and damaged the [wheel] rim. The tyre was slightly off the rim, but it was keeping pressure so we didn't lose too much time,” Kubica recalled.

“I think the first stage [SS8] and the last stage [SS10] were very good for us and I hope that we can continue like that this afternoon. Of course the second loop will be a bit more difficult, especially with the cuts as it's so unpredictable to know if the plastic bollards will be there or not. Even if the safety crews say that they are there, sometimes they are gone when we arrive.

“Also the ones that were missing this morning might be back this afternoon. It can be quite dangerous as there are so many blind corners in this event, but it's the same for everyone and we'll just see what we can do.”

“I was surprised that I lost so much on the last stage [of the morning, SS10],” Hirvonen added. “I did overshoot a junction, but still we shouldn't have lost that much when we were relatively close on the other two [SS8 and SS9]. That stage [SS10] felt a lot more slippery than the others and I know that my car is stiffer than Elfyn [Evans]' and Robert [Kubica]'s so maybe that's where I was struggling.”

Bryan Bouffier and Elfyn Evans hold joint eighth, over a minute further back, with Thierry Neuville tenth from Martin Prokop, Julien Maurin and the rest.

“The general feeling in the car is positive,” said Evans. “Even though the speed isn't that different and we're there or there abouts when compared to where we were yesterday, the feeling is much better. The stage times have been a little up and down this morning. Sometimes they've been good, and sometimes we've been a little overly cautious which has cost us a few seconds here and there.

“Overall I think we can be happy with our morning's work. We'll make a few little tweaks for the afternoon – mainly stage specific – and hopefully enjoy the rest of the day.”

Sebastien Ogier meanwhile has now climbed up to 22nd after his nightmare start on Friday with a faulty sensor and a time penalty costing him eight minutes.

In WRC2, Bernardo Sousa has overhauled Quentin Gilbert for the lead and post-SS10 has a 1 second margin. Sebastien Chardonnet completes the top-three.

The event now continues with a repeat run through this morning's three stages, before competitors tackle the 4.86 km Mulhouse super special (SS14) at 18.00 hours local time [17.00 hours UK time].

SS11, the 18.90 km run through Vallee de Munster 2, is due to start at 12.28 hours local time [11.28 hours UK time].

Rallye de France-Alsace: Overall standings after Stage 10 (Top 10):

1. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 1hr 32m 34.1s M
2. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +00m 14.8s M
3. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +00m 46.5s M
4. Dani Sordo Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +01m 17.4s M
5. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01m 24.7s M
6. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +01m 27.6s M
7. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01m 34.2s M
8. Bryan Bouffier Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +02m 48.1s M
= Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 48.1s M
10. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +03m 36.4s M


11. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03m 40.2s M
12. Julien Maurin Ford Fiesta RS WRC +04m 38.7s
13. Dennis Kuipers M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +04m 42.5s
14. Kevin Abbring Peugeot 208 T16 +05m 35.7s
15. Yuriy Protasov M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +05m 59.9s
16. Bernardo Sousa Ford Fiesta RRC +06m 28.2s WRC2
17. Quentin Gilbert Ford Fiesta R5 +06m 29.2s WRC2
22. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +08m 58.9s M

WRC2 standings after Stage 10 (Top 3):

1. Bernardo Sousa Ford Fiesta RRC 1hr 39m 02.3s WRC2
2. Quentin Gilbert Ford Fiesta R5 +00m 01.0s WRC2
3. Sebastien Chardonnet Citroen DS3 R5 +02m 05.6s WRC2

Notable retirements:

SS2. Marty McCormack Ford Fiesta R5 Accident WRC2

M denotes Manufacturer entry

all times unofficial

Related Pictures

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Jari-Matti Latvala,  Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo WRC #2, Volkswagen Motorsport)

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