Jari Matti Latvala has extended his lead in Rally Finland today by 9 seconds to teammate Sebastien Ogier. The Volkswagen driver is now 13 seconds ahead of Ogier, who lost some of his time at the start of the day on Stage 11, where Latvala was able to extend his lead by 3.5 seconds.
The morning stage was reported to be slippery for the drivers, most of whom opted to run on the Soft tyres. Kris Meeke crossed the line 1 second off Latvala’s best, however his day came to an abrupt end on Stage 16 when the Citroen driver crashed and broke off his left front wheel, 1.4km into the stage which was sodden with rain.
The forests of Finland also took its toll on Ogier’s car, whose wheel was missing a chunk at the end of the stage. “It happened near the beginning of the stage,” he said. “I was on the edge of the road, near a ditch, and we hit a rock. I thought we might have a puncture so I backed off. It was okay but not the best time.”
Meanwhile on the previous stage Dani Sordo went off into a ditch halfway through. Spectators managed to help him out, but the car crossed the finish with damage to the front end, largely cosmetic. He finished the stage 5 minutes off the pace: “We missed the line and went into a ditch. We tried to drive out but ended up losing a lot of time.”
Teammate Thierry Neuville completed the day having consistently kept up with the front runners, however he lost a heap of time when his Hyundai i20 suddenly started running on three cylinders towards the end.
Ogier meanwhile finished Stage 18 having set a time of 7:18.5. “I did what I could. But even if I finish second here it would be great for my championship. I missed my chance earlier today when I thought I had a puncture Jari-Matti has done a great job. He deserves this position for now.”
Tomorrow the drivers tackle the final leg of Rally Finland, which includes Stage 19 before the final Power Stage 20.