The fight for honours on Rally d'Italia Sardinia looks set to be an all-Ford affair heading into the final day after Jari-Matti Latvala successfully held his lead through Saturday's six stages in the Meditteranean.

The young Finn went into the day leading team-mate Mikko Hirvonen by just under 40 seconds, but faced the prospect of sweeping the road for the cars behind.

However, Latvala proved more than capable of fighting from the front to remain in the lead, although his advantage over Hirvonen now lies at less than ten second after his countryman closed in on the repeat run through the three stages that made up the day's action.

Related Articles

Hirvonen had looked set to battle for position throughout the day with championship leader Sebastien Loeb, with a penalty for starting stage nine a minute late being the only thing preventing the Frenchman from moving into second place during the morning.

However, on the second stage of the afternoon, Loeb's fortunes took a turn for the worse when he had to stop and change a puncture on stage eleven and dropped just over a minute. As a result, the Frenchman has now slipped to fourth place, but is expected to take third from Petter Solberg during the final day - with the Norwegian just 2.2 seconds ahead at the wheel of his Citroen Xsara.

Loeb wasn't the only driver to run into problems on stage eleven, with the second run through Fiorentini mixing up the order further doing the points scoring positions.

Going into the stage, Dani Sordo had held the position but his Citroen C4 developed turbo issues which saw him lose over four minutes. Further time would be lost on the final stage of the day to leave the Spaniard well off the pace down in eighth.

Henning Solberg dropped out on stage eleven after suffering broken suspension, while Conrad Rautenbach was also forced out after suffering a damper failure on his Citroen Junior Team C4. That came a stage after Sebastien Ogier - running under SupeRally - retired with a similar problem.

At the end of the day, young Russian Evgeny Novikov in the lone remaining Junior Team entry holds a lonely fifth place after fellow young gun Mads Ostberg was forced to retire from the leg towards the end of the final stage. Ostberg hadn't enjoyed the easiest of days at the wheel of his Adapta Subaru after suspension problems during the morning loop.

The issues ahead have allowed Matthew Wilson to climb up to sixth, albeit well down on Novikov after his problems on day one, while Khalid Al-Qassimi lies seventh.

Behind Sordo in eighth, Ostberg and Henning Solberg hold ninth and tenth under SupeRally. Federico Villagra was forced to retire, having restarted under SupeRally, following the morning loop after his co-driver fell ill.

In the Production World Rally Championship, Patrik Sandell will take a lead of 23.5 seconds over Nasser Al-Attiyah after Patrick Flodin dropped back with differential problems during the morning loop. Armindo Araujo now lies in third place overnight.

Junior World Rally Championship leader Michal Kosciuszko leads the Junior brigade at the end of the day, although Martin Prokop is only 16.6 seconds behind despite incurring more penalties and going off the road and hitting a tree on the final stage of the day. Aaron Burkart lies third, but is well behind the fight for victory.