Sunday, 11 May 2014

Rally - Latvala leads

There was no change in the leaderboard at the end of the second full day of rallying in Argentina late last night. After 10 stages so far, the Volkswagen triplets continued to dominate this fifth round of the World Championship.

At the overnight halt, Jari-Matti Latvala had a 31.2 second cushion over team mate S├ębastien Ogier. Andreas Mikkelsen started the day in seventh place overall, but moved up to fourth place after the first two stages and now lies 1m 56 seconds behind Northern Ireland’s Kris Meeke who currently holds third place in his Citroen DS3.

At the overnight halt Jari-Matti Latvala said: “Today was definitely one of my best days in the World Rally Championship, in spite of having spun the vehicle along the way. I have to thank Miikka (Anttila) for his excellent pace notes. He also did brilliantly to navigate us through the fog during the ninth stage.  There are days when everything simply works like clockwork – and you have to make the most of those opportunities.”

Photo: Citroen Racing/Austral
For his part S├ębastien Ogier said: “We did everything we could to close the gap, but Jari-Matti put in a strong performance and did a fantastic job. And unfortunately, things didn’t go all that well for us. The tread of one of our tyres came off during the eighth stage and damaged our fender. We will be looking into how that could have happened. Shortly before that, I also spun the car, which cost us some time. But all is not yet lost, as anything could still happen tomorrow.”
Holding third place, Kris Meeke said: “After the recce, we knew this would be the most difficult day of the rally. You need a great deal of experience to be able to go fast on these roads. We have learned a lot. It was important to avoid making any mistakes and we have achieved that goal. Overall, we’re very pleased with the day because we still have a two-minute lead over our closest challengers. We just have to keep it going to the end of the rally!”

In an excellent seventh place is Elfyn Evans: “We've had another clean and consistent run with no mistakes, but I can't pretend that it's not been a little frustrating at times. There's a lot to learn and the stages have been very testing so we have just tried to keep out of trouble. It's important not to do more than what feels 100 per cent comfortable at the time. If you do more than that, the risk goes up and it's a long way to come not to gain the experience. It's so important if you want to progress at this level and, ultimately, we want to ensure that we are in a good position for next year. Tomorrow looks like it could be another very difficult day. We know that the stages are very tight and very rough, and then there is the weather to take into account as well."

Just outside the top ten is Evans’ team mate, Mikko Hirvonen, after his bump yesterday: "This afternoon was a lot better. We made some small changes on the car – trying a few different things and doing a bit of testing – which I was really happy with. We were then able to set a really good time on SS9. I think we drove that stage really well and I hope that we can carry that speed forward to tomorrow."

Four stages remain on the final day with the next update, possibly late tonight, but more likely tomorrow morning!

Learderboard after 10 (of 14) stages:
1, J. Latvala, 3:33:19.1,
2, S. Ogier, 3:33:50.3, +31.2
3, K. Meeke, 3:37:06.1, +3:47.0
4, A. Mikkelsen, 3:39:02.1, +5:43.0
5, T. Neuville, 3:40:00.0, +6:40.9
6, R. Kubica, 3:40:33.5, +7:14.4
7, E. Evans, 3:41:11.1, +7:52.0
8, M. Prokop, 3:41:40.0, +8:20.9
9, N. Al-Attiyah, 3:49:39.7, +16:20.6
10, M. Ostberg, 3:53:54.9, +20:35.8
11, M. Hirvonen, 3:54:13.7, +20:54.6

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