TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi are part of a close battle for victory heading into the final day of Wales Rally GB, where 13.5 seconds separate the top four drivers. Latvala is second overall, only 4.4s away from the lead, with Lappi 7.4s behind that in third. Ott Tänak was leading the rally but had to stop in SS16 after sustaining radiator damage.
Today the crews faced the longest day of the rally, with 150 competitive kilometres split across nine stages on classic gravel roads in Mid Wales, all to be tackled without a mid-day service. Over the morning loop of five stages, Tänak increased his lead – which he had held since Friday morning – to 48 seconds, but he sustained a broken radiator in SS16 and stopped in order to try and prevent damage to his engine. The team expects that the car will be ready to restart tomorrow under Rally2 rules.
Latvala and Lappi had spent the morning in a tight fight with each other and their rivals: Lappi got ahead on SS10 before Latvala reclaimed the place on SS13. Latvala then went on to set the fastest time in both SS14 and SS17, putting him in a strong position to contend tomorrow for his third victory in Wales, with Lappi not far behind.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“It was obviously very disappointing that Ott had to stop, as he had been going so well. We have to do a careful investigation into what happened, and if there are some modifications needed then we have to react as soon as we can. On the plus side, Jari-Matti is now fighting for the win and it is very, very close between him and Ogier. It is a great opportunity and if he can find full confidence in the morning, then I am sure he can do it. Esapekka is right there as well and hopefully both will be on the podium tomorrow.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“After Ott had to retire, I realised that the door was open for the victory and I started to push harder, and the feeling was getting better and better. On the final stage I stalled in the ruts in a hairpin and I lost a few seconds, but we still have a day to go. It has been a while since my last win, so the motivation is definitely very high to go for it tomorrow.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“Things were going well this morning: we just had to keep the pace up and keep our rhythm. Unfortunately, in the second run through the Sweet Lamb stage we somehow damaged the radiator and we had to stop. Tomorrow we just need to take as many points as we can in the Power Stage. It will be difficult because we are starting far back in the road order, but we don’t have anything to lose, so we will just try all that we can.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“Today has been a long day and a really close fight. The morning was quite enjoyable. I didn’t want to take any big risks, but the times were reasonable. This afternoon we did start to lose some time and that was frustrating, but still, we are in third position and Jari-Matti is second, and this is important for the team. I think we will need to push hard tomorrow as we don’t have much of a gap behind.”
End of day three (Saturday):
1 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2h31m04.3s
2 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4.4s
3 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +11.8s
4 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +13.5s
5 Mads Ostberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroen C3 WRC) +34.1s
6 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +36.5s
7 Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +45.4s
8 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +55.5s
9 Kalle Rovanpera/Jonne Halttunen (Skoda Fabia R5) +7m30.8s
10 Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (Skoda Fabia R5) +8m33.9s
TBC Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +20m07.7s
(Results as of 18:00 on Saturday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Sunday will begin with a brand new stage, Elsi, followed by two runs over the Gwydir and Great Orme Llandudno tests. Unusually, the first run over Gwydir will serve as the Power Stage, with up to five bonus points available. That is because, in contrast to the rest of the event, the final stage will be run entirely on asphalt, along the dramatic Great Orme cliff-top road and through the streets of Llandudno, which will host the podium.
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