BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Jari-Matti Latvala continues to lead the Wales Rally GB following the opening loop on Saturday morning.

Latvala, who seized P1 on Friday afternoon, began the day with a 12.9 second advantage. However running first on the road he lost out in SS9, the 30.68 km Resolfen 1 test, and his advantage was cut back to just 0.8 seconds.

Jari-Matti struck back though in SS10 and another stage win - his fourth of the event - allowed him take the margin back up to 10 seconds. In the end the Finn returned to the mid-day halt with an 8.9 second cushion over Sebastien Loeb.

"I had no chance in the conditions on the first stage because the road was very frosty," Latvala said in service D. "The road was rock hard and every time I hit the throttle the wheels were spinning, so I eased off.

"The next two tests were similar but not as bad. Before bends I steered the car towards the side of the road to brake in the gravel where there was more grip. I'm being pressured by those behind but I want to try to build a 30sec lead tonight. I really want to win here for the team."

Loeb meanwhile, who was third in SS9 and SS11 and second in SS10, agreed that the conditions are still extremely tough. He also added that he is only too aware that with the manufacturers' championship still open, he can't go for broke and push for his first WRGB win.

"It's so slippery, with frozen surfaces everywhere. You never know where the grip is, so you have to be careful," said the Frenchman post-SS10. "We have to take it easy and think of the Manufacturers' title, but it's difficult to concentrate properly if you don't push to a certain degree."

Loeb's team-mate Dani Sordo is next up in the sister works C4 WRC and the Spaniard made the most of his more favourable road position in SS9 to set the pace and leap up from sixth to second. Although he dropped back in SS10, he set another quickest time in SS11 to further consolidate third place.

"We spent a lot of time on the recce marking exactly where the ice was, which explains our time in SS9," said Dani. "I was very careful on the next test as it was extremely slippery. Also there were some rocks on the edges, so it was better to be careful. There is a thin layer of ice on the top of the track."

Further down the order, Subaru's Petter Solberg is fourth, having moved in front of Mads Ostberg in SS9. Ostberg had a difficult start to the day and lost around 20 seconds in SS9 with engine gremlins.

P-G Andersson currently rounds out the top six and like Ostberg he slipped down the leaderboard. He had been third overnight: "It's more difficult than I thought it would be," the Suzuki man conceded. "Because the sun is out it gives you a sense of security, but the grip's not there. Hopefully the conditions will improve during the day and we can go faster later on."

Of the rest Stobart Ford's Francois Duval and Henning Solberg are seventh and eighth, followed by Toni Gardemeister, Matthew Wilson, Barry Clark and current P-WRC leader, Patrik Flodin.

Mikko Hirvonen has hauled himself up to 13th, following his roll on day 1, while MotoGP star Valentino Rossi has also made progress and now lies 16th - having been 24th at the end of day 1.

"I'm trying to climb as high as I can but the aim is also to stay on the road so I'm not taking risks," said Mikko. "There was a lot of ice in Resolfen and it was hard to find a good rhythm. I had a couple of close escapes. The cars ahead of me are polishing the ice and it's hard to tell where there is grip and where there isn't."

"I've made no mistakes. I'm hoping the sunshine will clear the frozen sections this afternoon," Rossi chipped in.

In terms of retirements the biggest casualty was Sebastien Ogier, who rolled out in SS9. It is not yet known if he will be able to re-start on day 3 under the SupeRally. Ogier now joins Chris Atkinson on the sidelines.

The action now continues with a repeat of this morning's three stages, before competitors head to Cardiff for the short 0.99 kilometre super special, which will bring leg two to a close.



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