Jari-Matti Latvala holds big lead after Sebastien Loeb retires in road crash
|Sunday, November 13th 2011, 08:59 GMT|
Jari-Matti Latvala is cruising towards Rally GB victory after Sebastien Loeb was forced out in a collision on a road section.
Latvala had pulled slightly further away on this morning's first stage, Halfway, bringing his lead up to 7.1 seconds.
Then on the following road section to Crychan, Loeb collided with a car driving on the wrong side of the road, ending his rally. No one was hurt in the incident.
That left Latvala with a lead of over three minutes back to second-placed Mads Ostberg's Stobart Ford.
"It makes a big difference and it was very shocking news actually," said Latvala of Loeb's accident.
"We were on the Crychan stage when we suddenly got the message that Loeb had a crash. Later when Henning [Solberg] and Mads came in we heard it was a road accident, and after that we started to back off a bit."
With his Saturday engine concerns now under control, Ostberg is driving steadily to the finish to try and secure his first podium since the season-opener in Sweden.
But third place remains hotly-contested. Henning Solberg moved up to the final podium spot with Loeb's exit, but is under increasing pressure from Mini's Kris Meeke, who reduced Solberg's advantage from 45s to 21s during this morning's first three stages.
Matthew Wilson is fifth for Stobart, followed by Ott Tanak's DMACK-shod Ford. Evgeny Novikov's Abu Dhabi-branded Ford was also gaining ground this morning, until the Russian became concerned by an engine warning light as he completed the loop.
Leading positions after SS20: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford 3h02m35.2s 2. Mads Ostberg Stobart Ford + 3m19.5s 3. Henning Solberg Stobart Ford + 6m31.0s 4. Kris Meeke Mini + 6m52.3s 5. Matthew Wilson Stobart Ford + 8m11.7s 6. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford + 8m58.7s 7. Dennis Kuipers FERM Ford + 9m21.1s 8. Evgeny Novikov Abu Dhabi Ford + 9m21.8s 9. Ken Block Monster Ford + 15m06.8s 10. Armindo Araujo Italia Mini + 15m46.5s