SS4: Ogier fastest but Kubica crashes out
Overnight Wales Rally GB leader Sebastien Ogier continued to set the pace on the opening stage of day two, as the action shifted south to mid-Wales and the gravel tracks of Hafren forest.
But while Ogier enjoyed a terrific run through the 32km Welsh classic, the stage brought an early end to Robert Kubica’s challenge, when the Pole crashed his Citroen 5km before the end.
Friday dawned overcast and dry, with a chilly temperature of four degrees Celsius, but rain yesterday meant roads were damp and muddy. All World Rally Cars left service with four soft-compound Michelin tyres, carrying one spare.
Jari-Matti Latvala, the Wales Rally GB winner in 2011 and 2012, was first to tackle the stage, but the Finn arrived at the finish control concerned that things weren’t going so well on his first Wales in a Volkswagen Polo R.
“It was a clear run, nothing major wrong, but the time is not going to be that good,” he said. “I like these stages but I can’t get the same feeling in the car that I have had in the past.”
Sure enough Latvala’s time was beaten by his team-mate Ogier, who was a clear 12 seconds faster. “The balance is not so good, and I’m understeering quite a lot, but following Jari-Matti’s lines in the road is probably a help,” he said.
Thierry Neuville got closest to Ogier’s time, and was 9.7sec slower in his Ford Fiesta RS to consolidate second overall. “It could have been better but we had a problem at a hairpin corner and nearly stalled,” said the Belgian.
Mikko Hirvonen and Evgeny Novikov rounded off the top five times, before the stage was stopped briefly following Kubica’s crash.
The Pole, making his World Rally Car debut here in a Citroen DS3, went off 27kms from the start and rolled. The Citroen team has confirmed that both he and new co-driver Michel Ferrara were uninjured. We’ll bring you more information when we get it…
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