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WRC NEWS 

Rally Finland: Latvala increases lead, Kubica crashes

Jari-Matti Latvala, Rally Finland 2014

Jari-Matti Latvala inched his Rally Finland lead over Volkswagen team-mate Sebastien Ogier up to 8.4 seconds during Friday morning, while Robert Kubica crashed on the first stage of the day.

Although four stages took place on Thursday, Friday's leg is still regarded as part of the 'opening day' in start order terms, meaning World Rally Championship leader Ogier must run first on the road until Saturday.

Ogier felt that was a factor in Latvala's growing lead - particularly on the Kakaristo stage where the Finn was 3.2s quicker - but he also admitted that his team-mate was on great form.

Kris Meeke has kept the VWs under pressure and was fastest of all on Kakaristo. The Citroen driver heads for midday service only 4.7s behind Ogier in third.

Juho Hanninen kicked off the morning with a stunning second-fastest time for Hyundai on the Pihlajakoski opener, bringing him back up to fourth ahead of Mikko Hirvonen, and was quickest of all at the first split of the next stage too.

Things then went badly awry when he rolled his i20 and had to struggle through the rest of the loop without a windscreen.

His dashboard also fell off and had to be held in place by co-driver Tomi Tuominen, and he dropped back to 11th.

Hanninen's wasn't the only Hyundai in trouble, as his team-mate Thierry Neuville removed the rear spoiler from his car with a mistake on the first stage of the day.

Hyundai's rookie Hayden Paddon fared better, setting two fourth-fastest stage times to move up to seventh place, ahead of Neuville.

Hirvonen remains fourth, with Andreas Mikkelsen and Mads Ostberg just 0.8s apart in their battle for fifth.

Kubica began the day in ninth but crashed out within a mile of the start of the first stage.

Leading positions after SS8:

Pos  Driver              Team/Car        Time/Gap
 1.  Jari-Matti Latvala  VW            1h01m26.5s
 2.  Sebastien Ogier     VW                 +8.4s
 3.  Kris Meeke          Citroen           +13.1s
 4.  Mikko Hirvonen      M-Sport Ford      +39.1s
 5.  Andreas Mikkelsen   VW                +50.3s
 6.  Mads Ostberg        Citroen           +51.1s
 7.  Hayden Paddon       Hyundai         +1m30.6s
 8.  Thierry Neuville    Hyundai         +1m32.9s
 9.  Elfyn Evans         M-Sport Ford    +1m52.8s
10.  Martin Prokop       Czech Ford      +2m16.6s
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