Rally: Ogier leads in Wales with one day to go

From press release

Sébastien Ogier will take a lead of 20.3 seconds into the final day of Wales Rally GB as he chases his first victory on the World Championship counter.

The Volkswagen Polo R driver began Saturday’s third leg with a lead of 20.1sec over his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, and he maintained that advantage despite a determined challenge from the Finn.

Ogier wasn’t fastest on any of the day’s seven stages, but judged his pace perfectly on the slippery forest roads of mid-Wales to round off the day with a clean run through the short asphalt stage at Chirk Castle in front of thousands of spectators.

Between them, Ogier’s team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen and Latvala won all of the day’s five forest stages, with Mikkelsen fastest on the first two and Latvala taking a hat-trick in the afternoon.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally GB

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC (Photo: VW Motorsport)

But while Latvala was encouraged by his ability to take time out of Ogier on the latter tests, he ended the day concerned by his lack of pace earlier on.

Thierry Neuville is third on his last outing in a Ford Fiesta RS before a switch to Hyundai for 2014. The Belgian had a largely trouble free day, but was kept under pressure from Mikkelsen behind. A lack of split times in Neuville’s car in the afternoon didn’t help him judge his speed, but the Belgian completed the day with a 20-second advantage.     

Mikkelsen was satisfied too, having come out best in a three-way battle for fourth that became a duel on SS11 when Evgeny Novikov rolled out.

Mads Ostberg is fifth, just 7.3sec further back, in his Qatar M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS. The Norwegian got a big step closer to Mikkelsen on the final forest stage, thanks in part to some suspension set-up advice from his father, and has fourth place in his sights on Sunday.

After Ostberg there is a gap of almost five minutes to Ford Fiesta RS driver Martin Prokop in sixth.

Dani Sordo is seventh, and Citroen’s sole remaining factory entry after Robert Kubica crashed out today for a second time. The Pole restarted after a crash on day two, but went off the road on SS11 after a pace-note misunderstanding.

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