VW works driver Latvala is within 35s of third placed Thierry Neuville (Ford Fiesta RS) but will remained constrained over the final 125km of competitive stages today.
The German manufacturer wants to capitalise on extending its advantage over Citroen who were delivered a cruel blow to their chances when Kris Meeke rolled his DS3 WRC seven times on the super fast Nambucca run on day two.
The rollover ripped two wheels off the Citroen with the French team working overtime to repair the #3 machine.
Latvala said he had escaped unscathed following ‘a few spins’ from his difficult road position before he started to climb back into a rhythm.
“I was fighting for the podium this morning but then I had another spin. We are still on target with the points but I haven’t been that confident here like some other rallies,” JML said.
“I can’t really push too hard because I need to get the points. First we have to get the manufacturer points in this rally.”
Meeke had been well aware of his role in helping Citroen fight against VW in the manufacturer’s battle however all the team preservation amounted to nought at the end of the day.
The Irishman claimed he had gone into a second gear corner, 10km/h faster but could not escape the gut wrenching feeling of a rollover.
“My primary objective is to reach the finish. On these very fast stages, I am very careful. I feel good driving the car and I hope to continue to experience this afternoon,” he told his Citroen team.
“I just made a mistake in applying a little too late,” Meeke explained further.
“We rolled several times at low speed. This is a big disappointment for me but especially for the team that gave me confidence. I can only be sorry. ”
Citroën Racing mechanics will make every effort to ensure that the crew could be back in the race in the Rally2.
8.00am: Service G (15min)
8.51: SS17 Bucca 1 (10.89km)
9.18: SS18 Wedding Bells 1 (22.94km)
10.18: SS19 Shipmans 1 (19.44km)
11.38: Service Park H (30min)
12.44pm: SS20 Bucca 2 (10.89km)
1.11: SS21 Wedding Bells 2 (22.24km)
2.11: SS22 Shipmans 2 – Power Stage (19.44km)
4.45: FIA post event press conference