14 November 2014
WRC Wales Rally GB: Ogier remains top as Latvala fights back
Sebastien Ogier concludes day one of Wales Rally GB, the 2014 WRC season finale, with a 6.6 second lead over Jari-Matti Latvala; Mikko Hirvonen completes the provisional podium ahead of Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg, the latter losing two places on the repeat loop...
Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier continues to lead Wales Rally GB following Friday afternoon's repeat loop, but team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala has nibbled away at his advantage, cutting it from 9.5 seconds to 6.6.
Ogier won three of the four stages this morning to build his early cushion, but this afternoon he was only quickest in one test, SS6, a result that helped to negate the 5.7 seconds he lost to Latvala in SS5.
The Frenchman was then second again to Latvala in SS7 and SS8, but there was very little in it - only 0.4 seconds in Hafren Sweet Lamb 2 and only 0.2 seconds in Maesnant 2 - and as a result he remains top going into the overnight service in Deeside.
“It was very difficult to drive this morning but I really enjoyed the stages,” Ogier told the official WRC site. “This afternoon was different - I just tried to survive. Conditions were very slippery and in the end I was just fighting the car.”
Latvala was happier on the repeat loop, but admitted it was far from easy.
“Surprisingly there was even more water on the [Gartheiniog] stage [this afternoon] than there was this morning. I calmed down and I am concentrating hard. It was a really good stage, and we will try to keep the fight going on,” Latvala said after his SS5 win.
“I was really pushing,” he added after SS8, “but the problem is the roads are very polished and we had a lot of understeer. That is hard because when you attack you cannot get the car to turn in. I was working really hard.”
Behind, M-Sport's Mikko Hirvonen has climbed to third on his final event in the WRC. The Finn is a long way off the duel for the win – over a minute – but the third quickest time in SS6 was enough to put him ahead of Mads Ostberg.
“I made a mistake in the beginning [of the final test] - not a big one but it is really annoying. I then made a few more mistakes trying to make it back, but the time was pretty good so OK. The conditions are very tricky,” Hirvonen noted.
Kris Meeke also leapfrogged Ostberg and he now lies 7.7 seconds off Hirvonen and 0.7 seconds up on his Citroen team-mate. The Ulsterman would have been third, but for a 10 second penalty incurred for jumping the start of SS1.
“I made a mistake on the first corner here on the first loop and then I made an even bigger one on the second loop and lost about 5 seconds. I had to put the hammer down after. We could have had a good time...” Meeke lamented after the final test.
Behind, Thierry Neuville is sixth for Hyundai, 11.7 seconds off P5 and 16.4 seconds up on Elfyn Evans in seventh.
Ott Tanak, Henning Solberg and Martin Prokop hold positions 8 through to 10, with Henning impressively third fastest in SS5 and fifth in SS6.
Former F1 driver Robert Kubica ends the day 11th, while Hayden Paddon has dropped from 9th to 12th after power steering problems.
In WRC2, Jari Ketomaa remains out front, 39.5 seconds up on Bernardo Sousa. Ketomaa won five of the day's eight tests, while Sousa took the other three. Lorenzo Bertelli is third, 5.5 seconds ahead of Tom Cave.
As for retirements, Andreas Mikkelsen and Juho Hanninen both went out this morning. Mikkelsen was sidelined after hitting a bank in SS2, while Hanninen went into a ditch in SS3.
Wales Rally GB now continues on Saturday with nine stages on the bill, covering a competitive distance of 113.74 km. SS9, the 8.25km Clocaenog East 1 test, is due to start at 08.25 hours local time.
Wales Rally GB: Overall standings after Stage 8 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 1hr 26m 28.9s M
2. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 06.6s M
3. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01m 13.8s M
4. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +01m 21.5s M
5. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +01m 22.2s M
6. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +01m 33.9s M
7. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01m 50.3s M
8. Ott Tanak Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 29.4s
9. Henning Solberg Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 39.0s
10. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 49.8s M
11. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03m 44.7s M
12. Hayden Paddon Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +04m 01.0s M
13. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta R5 +06m 18.8s WRC2
WRC2 standings after Stage 8 (Top 3):
1. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta R5 1hr 32m 47.7s WRC2
2. Bernardo Sousa Ford Fiesta RRC +00m 39.5s WRC2
3. Lorenzo Bertelli Ford Fiesta R5 +01m 09.5s WRC2
SS2. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC Hit a bank M
SS3. Juho Hanninen Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC Went off M
M denotes Manufacturer entry
all times unofficial
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