Hirvonen pushing hard, but Latvala remains fastest
Duel of the Finns rages on with Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikko Hirvonen still engaged in a battle for victory in Swedish snow. At the start of afternoon loop and re-run of Vargasen stage Latvala was just 1 tenth faster than Hirvonen which means they remain separated by just under 19 seconds.
Just like yesterday, main focus will be on keeping the tires and studs in perfect working order, so Latvala has to keep this in mind as he confirmed at the stage end.
Meanwhile battle for third continues as Mads Ostberg keeps the pressure on Petter Solberg. Younger Norwegian flew through the stage and by setting third fastest time he reduced the gap to Solberg by additional 7 tenths. Solberg is now only 6 and a half seconds ahead of Ostberg with three more stages to go.
“We need to take care of tires, long way to go, but overall good feeling”, Latvala said at the end of SS 15.
Sebastien Loeb was also out for some results on SS 15, despite claiming more conservative approach and preserving the tires. Frenchman managed 4th fastest time and is currently 7th with just 6 tenths deficit behind Henning Solberg.
On the Mini front, Patrik Sandell remains best placed car. Prodrive pilot managed 8th fastest time on SS 15 and is equally eigth in overall classification. Rest of the Minis are history with Paulo Nobre once again retiring and Armindo Araujo reporting all sorts of problems, from engine lacking power to penalties due to late service exits.