Latvala's crash gives Ogier a commanding advantage

Sebastien Ogier looks set to claim his final win of the season, but the battle for the final podium positions will go down to the wire on Wales Rally GB

Latvala's crash gives Ogier a commanding advantage
Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle, Citroën DS3 WRC, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen, M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC
Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen, M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC
Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen, M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC
Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle, Citroën DS3 WRC, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle, Citroën DS3 WRC, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle, Citroën DS3 WRC, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, Volkswagen Polo WRC, Volkswagen Motorsport
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, Volkswagen Polo WRC, Volkswagen Motorsport
Mads Ostberg and Jonas Andersson, Citroën DS3 WRC, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
Mads Ostberg and Jonas Andersson, Citroën DS3 WRC, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team

Sébastien Ogier now has a commanding lead after the second day of Wales Rally GB but it is the incredible battle for the remaining podium positions that has captivated all today. Mikko Hirvonen and Kris Meeke have been trading times and positions and at the end of the day the battling rivals are split by just 3.4 seconds after nearly 260 kilometres of competition.

Today’s route took in two identical loops of four stages, split by a short spectator-friendly two kilometre stage at Chirk Castle. Ogier started the day with 6.6 seconds in hand to second-placed team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala but disaster struck the Finn in the opening stage. He stalled the engine under braking, going off the road and into a ditch.

Spectators finally got the stricken Polo R WRC back on the road, but with over three minutes lost Latvala plummeted down the leaderboard from second to 10th and automatically handed a huge advantage to Ogier. The Frenchman has therefore been able to control his pace at the front of the field and unusually won no stages, but his overnight advantage is now just under one minute.

The thrilling fight for the second position

Hirvonen, Meeke, Mads Østberg and Thierry Neuville were all embroiled in a thrilling fight for second position this morning, trading positions stage by stage until Hirvonen established himself out front, albeit by just 3.4 seconds over Meeke at the end of the day, setting up a fantastic battle on Sunday. Østberg’s challenge took a dent this morning when he picked up a 10 second penalty for checking in late at stage 12 when he and co-driver Jonas Andersson were delayed trying to sort out an intercom problem.

Nevertheless the Norwegian has had a great day in the second DS3 WRC, despite a puncture in the penultimate stage that forced him to take it easy running without a spare in the final stage. While nearly 40 seconds adrift of Meeke now, he does however need to continue pushing hard as Thierry Neuville is only 3.3 seconds behind in the lead Hyundai i20 WRC. The Belgian lost time this morning overshooting three junctions and then hit a chicane and damaged the lamp pods this evening, but he too needs to push hard with sixth-placed Elfyn Evans a further 7.9 seconds adrift.

Ott Tanak has moved one place up the leaderboard to seventh and Latvala has managed to climb into eighth, the Finn taking some consolation from a fastest time this evening. Henning Solberg had an alternator problem this morning and a puncture this afternoon, as well as a fastest time, and retains ninth with Martin Prokop 10th. Returning under Rally 2 regulations, Andreas Mikkelsen set the rally alight with four straight fastest stage times this morning, but is still way down the leaderboard after losing so much time yesterday.

Wales Rally GB – Unofficial Results after Section 4

1.   Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia

Volkswagen Polo R WRC

2hr 33 min 19.3sec

2.   Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

2hr 34 min 17.4sec

3.   Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle

Citroën DS3 WRC

2hr 34 min 20.8sec

4.   Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson

Citroën DS3 WRC

2hr 35 min 00.5sec

5.  Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul

Hyundai i20 WRC

2hr 35 min 03.8sec

6.  Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

2hr 35 min 11.7sec

7.  Ott Tanak/Raigo Molder

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

2hr 35 min 52.6sec

8.   Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila

Volkswagen Polo R WRC

2hr 36 min 47.4sec

9.   Henning Solberg/Ilka Minor

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

2hr 36 min 56.7sec

10. Martin Prokop/Jan Tomanek

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

2hr 37 min 13.8sec

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