Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala traded fastest times as Wales Rally GB returned to Gartheibiog and Dyfi forests to begin Friday afternoon’s loop, but the Finn emerged the happier of the duelling Volkswagen drivers. He was 5.7sec quicker than Ogier through Gartheiniog, and although the Frenchman took 3.4sec back in Dyfi, Latvala reduced his deficit to 7.2sec.
Ogier admitted to a ‘couple of small mistakes’ in the first test, including missing the turn-in at a hairpin, while Latvala was perplexed at his time loss in Dyfi. “I thought I was driving well so I don’t know why I lost time,” he said.
Third fastest in Dyfi promoted Mikko Hirvonen into third in his Ford Fiesta RS after overhauling Mads Østberg. “I wasn’t able to find a rhythm, it felt very, very, very bad. I have no clue what to change,” admitted a deflated Østberg, whose DS3 is now 1.4sec behind the Finn.
Kris Meeke’s delight at third fastest in SS5, was offset by eighth in Dyfi and the Northern Irishman summed up the feelings of everyone. “It’s so, so slippery. It’s like Rallye Monte-Carlo on gravel,” he said.
Hayden Paddon had power steering problems in Gartheiniog in his Hyundai i20 and traced the issue to a broken pump. He was unable to make repairs and resigned himself to driving the rest of the afternoon with no power assistance.
Henning Solberg set top five times in both stages, despite missing two junctions in Dyfi, and climbed to ninth in his Fiesta RS, now restored to full health after a morning misfire. “I’m really pushing – I don’t want this position!” he said.