SS11: Kubica and Novikov crash out
Andreas Mikkelsen was the pacesetter once again as the action shifted to the slippery roads of Dyfi, and a stage that ended the day for Robert Kubica and Evgeny Novikov.
At the wheel of a Volkswagen Polo R, a confident Mikkelsen negotiated the 21km test 0.2sec quicker than his team-mate, rally leader Sebastien Ogier.
“This one was much trickier than the first,” he said. “The grip is changing all the time and it’s easy to do a mistake. For us it’s okay though, a clean stage with no problems. Let’s continue like that.”
Ogier too seemed to take the muddy forest roads in his stride. “It was a clean drive. I was looking at Latvala’s splits and when I saw near the end that I was faster I was a bit more careful. I have a good feeling with the car, it’s not a big attack because these are new stages for me,” he said.
But it was a very different story for Latvala in the third Polo. The Finn was 3.3sec slower than Ogier and arrived at the finish control shaking his head. “I don’t have the feeling, I’m sorry to say that, but it’s just not happening,” he explained.
Kubica rejoined the rally today after rolling his Citroen DS3 WRC out of Friday’s competition on the opening stage. Unfortunately, his luck showed no sign of improvement on Dyfi and he went off 3.7km from the start. The circumstances of the crash are not yet known but Citroen Racing quickly reported that Kubica and co-driver Michel Ferrara were uninjured.
Ford Fiesta RS driver Novikov went off shortly after, at the 6km mark. The Russian was third fastest on today’s opening stage and was in the thick of the fight with Mikkelsen and Mads Ostberg for fourth place.
Ostberg, who was fifth fastest, saw where his M-Sport team-mate Novikov had crashed. “He was off in a very fast place, braking into a right-hand corner. We slowed down quite a lot but couldn’t see them, but there were people there, and they waved us on, so we continued,” he said. “For us it was okay, we lost some time at the end where it was very slippery but apart from that quite good.”
Thierry Neuville was third quickest and another driver to slow at the scene. The Qatar M-Sport team confirmed that Novikov and co-driver Ilka Minor were uninjured.
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