Jari-Matti Latvala is within sight of victory at Rallye de France and in the process his first career win on tarmac.
On the second leg he stretched his lead to 28 second over another Volkswagen driver by Andreas Mikkelsen. World Champion Sebastien Ogier had his hopes end on the opening day. 18th after yesterday’s dramas, the Frenchman won two stages, the second of which marked his 300th career win.
Latvala won the three morning tests near Colmar, which included roads used in the Tour de France cycle race. Fastest time on the next stage raised the lead to more than 20sec for the first time, after which Mikkelsen eased up.
Mikkelsen, in his first full FIA World Rally Championship campaign, has his sights set on third in the series and could achieve that this weekend.
Kris Meeke was third, a further 25.7sec behind in a Citroen DS3 and admitted that he was driving for the podium finish and not taking further risks to chase down Mikkelsen.
Dani Sordo held off a charging Robert Kubica for fourth at the head of a four-car battle. He finished 0.9sec ahead of the Pole who climbed two places, despite a scare in SS9 when he clipped a wall and drove 15km with the right rear tyre of his Ford Fiesta RS partly off the rim. Mikko Hirvonen was 12.0sec behind in sixth in a Fiesta RS.
Mads Ostberg restarted in fifth but fell to the back of the quartet after rear differential problems this afternoon. He incurred a 70sec penalty after checking in late for SS13 after working on his DS3 to stem an oil leak.
Eighth was Elfyn Evans, the Welshman climbing two places after yesterday’s problems and he is only 12.2sec behind Ostberg, with the i20s of Bryan Bouffier and Thierry Neuville completing the leaderboard.
Tomorrow’s final leg comprises two loops of two stages through forests near Saverne, covering 63.38km. The final Power Stage offers bonus points to the fastest three drivers, but with rain forecast, there could still be a twist to this 11th round of the season.
VIDEO: Morning stages
VIDEO: Afternoon stages
POSITIONS: End of Day 2 – Rallye de France
|5||Robert Kubica||M-Sport Ford||+1:42.6|
|6||Mikko Hirvonen||M-Sport Ford||+1:54.6|
|8||Elfyn Evans||M-Sport Ford||+3:16.8|