SS4: Latvala back in front
Neuville cautious after heavy impact
Jari-Matti Latvala regained the lead of Rally Sweden in the final speed test of Friday morning’s opening loop after a blistering drive propelled him back ahead of Thierry Neuville.
Latvala stormed through Norway’s Svullrya special stage 8.5sec faster than the Belgian in his Toyota Yaris. He crossed back into Sweden to the Torsby service park with a 3.9sec lead following a fast and furious group of three stages.
Overnight leader Latvala stiffened his front suspension and relished the snow and ice-covered roads. “A beautiful stage. It was a really nice feeling to drive in here. I couldn’t get that feeling last year because I had a broken driveshaft, but I really enjoyed it now,” he said.
Neuville, who won this morning’s opening two stages in his Hyundai i20 Coupe, yielded a few seconds after an impact. “There were a lot of deep cuts and I hit something very hard with the front. I took it a bit more carefully as I thought I might have a puncture but the car was OK,” he explained.
The battling duo pulled clear of a fierce fight for third. Kris Meeke held the advantage but third fastest for Sébastien Ogier promoted him from eighth to fourth, only 0.3sec behind the Citroën C3. Just 0.9sec further back, and tied on time, were Ott Tänak and Mads Østberg.
Tanak’s Fiesta was jumping out of gear, while Norwegian Østberg struggled for grip in his similar car as those ahead in the running order broke up the icy surface.
Dani Sordo slipped from fourth to seventh after a bizarre incident. Some netting attached to the roof inside his i20 Coupe came loose, affecting his vision and concentration. He missed a hairpin and dropped more than 20sec.
Craig Breen broke a front damper after hitting a stone but the Irishman, Juho Hänninen and Hayden Paddon filled the rest of the leaderboard. Elfyn Evans slipped to 12th after clipping a rock buried in a snowbank and puncturing his Fiesta’s right rear tyre.
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