Mikko Hirvonen regained second place in Wales Rally GB as fierce three-car battle with Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg took more twists in Saturday’s afternoon’s opening two stages.Østberg’s hold on the position disappeared as he left the mid-leg service in Deeside when he was handed a 10sec penalty for checking in late at the start of SS12 this morning. Østberg was delayed as he worked on an intercom problem in his Citroen DS3, but insisted he was on time.
That restored Hirvonen to second but Meeke was fastest through Clocaenog East in his DS3 to move ahead by 1.1sec. Hirvonen retaliated by winning the next stage in his Ford Fiesta RS to head the Northern Irishman by 3.3sec, with Østberg a further 14.7sec behind.
The morning pass through the stages polished the surface bedrock and drivers were shocked by how tricky the conditions were.
Sébastien Ogier was fourth and eighth in his Volkswagen Polo R and his lead stood at 1min 03.0sec. “I had so much mud on the car that I felt it wouldn’t go any more!” he said.
Andreas Mikkelsen was second quickest in both stages despite no intercom after a mix-up when changing helmets in service. “The faulty one I had before service was given to Ola (co driver Floene) when we left,” explained the Norwegian.
Martin Prokop overshot a hairpin in Clocaenog East and had to reverse, and then punctured a rear right tyre on ‘Fiona’ the Fiesta RS in the next test.