WRC Rally Finland: Latvala continues to lead

Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala concludes Saturday morning's opening loop on Rally Finland 3 seconds up on team-mate, Sebastien Ogier; Kris Meeke remains 'best of the rest' in third ahead of Mads Ostberg and Thierry Neuville in fourth and fifth...
Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Lavala remains in the lead of Rally Finland following Saturday morning's opening loop, but the gap to team-mate, Sebastien Ogier has ebbed and flowed and the Frenchman is still very much a threat.

Latvala started the second leg with a 2.6 second cushion, and in the first test – the 13.84 km Mokkipera 1 stage - the Finn was fastest, 3.4s up on Ogier, to stretch his advantage to 6 seconds. However, in SS12, the situation was reversed, with Ogier taking the win, while Latvala was 3.9s slower.

Ogier was then quickest again in SS13, but only 0.1s up on Latvala, before Jari-Matti took the honours in SS14, 1s up on his rival. Latvala now goes into the 30 minute mid-day halt with a 3 second margin.

“It went really well this morning,” Latvala said. “We have analysed our driving: when I really push I sometimes let the car go sideways but the feeling was very good. We now go to service, get some coffee and get ready for the afternoon.”

“We had a small moment when I got off line [in SS14] but I'm happy with the loop of stages,” Ogier added. “The first one was a slippery, the rest were okay.”

Meanwhile, Citroen's Kris Meeke continues to hold third and is 'best of the rest' in his DS 3 WRC, 30.5s off the duel for the win, and 13.5s up on team-mate Mads Ostberg in fourth.

“I am really happy,” Meeke said after the first test of the morning, “and it confirms my suspicion that something wasn't right on Friday. We won't know what the problem was until the team have a look inside, but the complete transmission was changed last night and the car feels perfect now.”

Hyundai duo Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo complete the top-six, split by 5.9s, but more than 1.5 minutes off Ostberg.

“I try to follow the line of the guys in front of me but they must have more grip than me because I go more sideways than they do in corners,” Neuville lamented.

Further back Juho Hanninen is seventh in his privately entered Fiesta RS WRC, 20.5s off the recovering Ott Tanak, who is now back on the pace after his broken left-front damper was fixed in Friday's end of day service.

“It's been an okay morning," said Tanak. "This is more or less my first time in Finland with the speed of a world rally car so there is a lot to learn. There are a few surprising moments at times and we don't always have the right line. It's quite tricky, but the experience is good.

“We just have to keep building the confidence. To be on the pace of the leaders you have to be on the limit all of the time. There's no need for us to take those sorts of risks now so we're just focusing on improving the feeling and clawing back as many points as possible.”

Martin Prokop has dropped from eighth to ninth, reporting some fairly hairy moments in SS11 and SS12.

WRC2 class leader Esapekka Lappi then rounds out the top ten in his Skoda Fabia R5, more than a minute up on team-mate and closest rival, Pontus Tidemand. Stephane Lefebvre is third in WRC2, another minute or so back in his Citroen DS 3 RRC.

Of the rest, Elfyn Evans is 17th after losing time on Friday when he damaged the suspension on his M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC in SS4.

Former F1 Robert Kubica re-started this morning under Rally 2 and is now first on the road and well down in the overall classification after missing the second loop on Friday: “The morning has been good for us. It is not easy as I cannot see any lines, which is new for me. But we learned a lot and that is good,” Kubica remarked.

Day two of Rally Finland now continues this afternoon with repeat runs through all four of this morning's tests. SS15, the 13.84 km Mokkipera 2 test, is due to start at 14.37 hours local time [12.37 hours UK time].

Full itinerary for round eight in WRC 2015 available - HERE.

2015 Rally Finland: Overall standings after Stage 14 (Top 10):

1. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 1hr 48m 20.3s M
2. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +0m 03.0s M
3. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +0m 33.5s M
4. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +0m 47.0s M
5. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +2m 33.2s M
6. Dani Sordo Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +2m 39.1s M
7. Juho Hanninen Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3m 28.9s
8. Ott Tanak M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3m 49.4s M
9. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +4m 10.0s M
10. Esapekka Lappi Skoda Fabia R5 +4m 55.0s WRC2


11. Pontus Tidemand Skoda Fabia R5 +6m 06.9s WRC2
12. Lorenzo Bertelli FWRT SRL Ford Fiesta RS WRC +7m 07.2s M
13. Stephane Lefebvre Citroen DS 3 RRC +7m 17.9s WRC2
14. Jarkko Nikara Ford Fiesta R5 +8m 35.2s WRC2
15. Yuriy Protasov Ford Fiesta RRC +8m 37.4s WRC2
17. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +10m 50.9s M
19. Khalid Al Qassimi Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +11m 34.0s
51. Robert Kubica Ford Fiesta RS WRC +36m 18.0s

WRC2 standings after Stage 14 (Top 3):

1. Esapekka Lappi Skoda Fabia R5 1hr 53m 15.3s WRC2
2. Pontus Tidemand Skoda Fabia R5 +1m 11.9s WRC2
3. Stephane Lefebvre Citroen DS 3 RRC +1m 41.9s WRC2

Notable retirements:

SS5. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC Crashed M
SS5/6. Robert Kubica Ford Fiesta RS WRC Mechanical*
SS5/6. Craig Breen Peugeot 208 T16 Engine WRC2
SS6. Hayden Paddon Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC Crashed M

*denotes re-started on Saturday under Rally 2

M denotes Manufacturer entry

all times unofficial
by Rob Wilkins

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
30.07.2015 - Jari-Matti Latvala, Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo WRC #2, Volkswagen Motorsport)

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