Sébastien Ogier is well on course for a ninth victory in the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship having consolidated his lead during the first full day of competition in Wales Rally GB. The Frenchman has 20.1 seconds in hand to team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala who has powered ahead of Thierry Neuville.
Today’s route was the longest of the event and took in two identical loops of three stages covering 137.06 competitive kilometres. In addition, crews could only take advantage of a mid-day remote service in Newtown, meaning limited spare parts and service time. Ogier started the day with a slim advantage but was again immediately on the pace, winning the first stage in the opening loop. While he was beaten by Dani Sordo and Latvala in the following two stages, this afternoon the Frenchman blitzed the opposition with a string of three fastest times to take a commanding control of the leaderboard. Latvala’s fastest time in SS6 saw him overhaul Neuville, who has been uncharacteristically off the pace in Wales.
Behind the leading trio, Mads Østberg is fourth, battling with fellow Fiesta driver Evgeny Novikov, the duo split by 3.7 seconds this evening. Andrea Mikkelsen is also in that fight for fourth, a further 1.1 seconds behind. Citroën has been in the thick of today’s dramas; Robert Kubica, making his debut in the DS3 WRC, rolled in the first stage and just two stages later Mikko Hirvonen did the same thing in the sister car. Sordo, in ninth, is their only remaining contender, although the Spaniard is carrying a five-minute penalty with him for a breach of the chassis regulations.