Building up to a nail-biting climax!
Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, already assured of their eighth consecutive World Rally Champions title,*are determined to finish the season with a flourish. They started the day with a one-second lead over Latvala, and this evening the Citroën Total World Rally Team crew is in second place, six seconds behind the leader. Rally Great Britain looks like it’s building up to a nail-biting climax! Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia in the second works DS3 WRC continue to accumulate experience on the Welsh stages.
After two days of stages new to the current generation of WRC drivers, Rally Great Britain continued on more familiar territory. The Hafren, Sweet Lamb and Myherin stages made up a loop to be covered twice during the day
I felt like it was the middle of the night!
When Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena woke up just before 5h00, their first reflex was not to say that they were eight-time World Rally Champions : “Above all, I said to myself it was too early; I felt like it was the middle of the night!” chuckled Loeb. After covering the 94 km separating the Cardiff parc fermé from the Builth Wells service park, the crews set out to tackle the day’s stages.
With only one second in hand over Latvala, Loeb had no choice but to go pedal to the metal. The Finn was slightly faster in the first splits, but he then made a slight error, which helped the Citroën driver to set the fastest time and increase the gap to 6.9s! The two rivals were almost on a par in the next two stages and Loeb rejoined the service park with a lead of 7.3s.
“I was feeling on form this morning and I was able to push really hard. I knew that the scrap between Jari- Matti and me would be very tight as he was already very quick in these stages in 2010. He started off quicker than us in SS12 and there wasn’t much we could do about it, but then he made a slight mistake, which gave us some breathing space. We’ll really have to fight to maintain the gap,” said the newly-crowned eight-time world champion.
Latvala put on a stunning display second time through the stages. He took the lead in SS15 and finished the leg 6.1s in front of Loeb. “I think I drove pretty well. Jari-Matti was just that little bit quicker this afternoon. There’s no other explanation as I don’t reckon the starting order had any influence on the performances,” the Citroën driver commented. “With a six-second gap everything’s still up for grabs. If I feel confident tomorrow, I’ll keep on pushing to try and win this rally.”
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia continued to push hard to gather the maximum amount of experience on one of the most difficult terrains in the world championship. They rejoined in seventy-third place after their retirement on Thursday; they were twenty-seventh at the end of the second leg and they are currently lying fifteenth. “It’s going much better than yesterday. The weather conditions were good and it’s always more pleasant to drive in the sun,” smiled the Frenchman. “Being twelfth out I was expecting a glassy surface, but finally the grip wasn’t too bad. I’m enjoying myself behind the wheel and that’s all that really matters in my situation!”
- Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA.