Wales, 29 Oct 2016: Reigning FIA World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier continues to head the Wales Rally GB leaderboard, the Frenchman losing only one second to second-placed Ott Tanak after Saturday’s first three stages. Thierry Neuville leads the challenge for Hyundai, the Belgian with one stage win this morning and now 42.1 seconds adrift of his Estonian rival.
Saturday’s leg is an unusual challenge for the crews in that there is 100 kilometres of competition, not only without a midday service but also a tyre fitting zone. So, when crews chose their tyres early this morning, they were committed to them for the duration of the day. Once again, drizzly rain and mist greeted them as they headed southwest of the rally base in Deeside for two loops of three stages, then with a single run through another two stages before returning to the main service late afternoon.
Ogier started the day with a 37.3 second lead over Tanak, who immediately set the pace in his DMACK-shod Fiesta RS WRC. Both have run without problems and while Tanak is happy with his pace, the Estonian admitted there is no way to catch Ogier on speed alone. Neuville won the third stage but lost time in the previous one when he hit a bank and thought he’d damaged the i20 WRC. He is third and ahead of team-mate Hayden Paddon who is once again struggling with set up and the road conditions not suiting his driving style. He is just 7.3 seconds behind and with more than 20 seconds in hand to Kris Meeke. The Northern Irish driver feels he cannot do more to challenge, his road position further down the field hampering his charge. Plus, he has had two slow punctures this morning and, with another five stages to run and no more spare tyres, Meeke will need to manage this situation carefully.
Dani Sordo, sixth at the mid-leg regroup in Corris, is not entirely comfortable with the set up and when he tried to push harder he went off the road in the second stage. A lack of confidence in the changeable conditions continues to unsettle the Spaniard. Mads Østberg is seventh, the Norwegian picking up a 10 second penalty at first service when the team had to make last minute repairs to the Fiesta before he headed out to the stages. Like Meeke, Jari-Matti Latvala is finding the road conditions difficult further down the field, this coupled with his own driving contributing to time loss. Stephane Lefebvre is ninth and Eric Camilli has moved into the top 10 this morning.
The FIA WRC 2 Championship continues to be led by Esapekka Lappi but he has lost time to a charging Teemu Suninen, both Finns on a mission for maximum points to keep their championship hopes alive. Suninen has won two of the three stages and is now 34.3 seconds adrift of Lappi. The FIA WRC 3 Championship continues to be led by Martin Koci, the Slovakian driver racking up a trio of stage wins to head Simone Tempestini by 46 seconds.
eom/FIA press release