Ford's  Jari-Matti Latvala leads after day one in Jordan

Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala leads after day one in Jordan

01.04.2010: Jari-Matti Latvala will take a 30.2-second lead into day two of the Jordan Rally after winning three of Thursday’s seven special stages. But despite the Ford Focus driver’s comfortable margin out front, the outcome of the third round of the World

Jari-Matti Latvala will take a 30.2-second lead into day two of the Jordan Rally after winning three of Thursday’s seven special stages.

But despite the Ford Focus driver’s comfortable margin out front, the outcome of the third round of the World Rally Championship is far from settled with the leading drivers set to jostle for position throughout Friday in their tense tactical battle for honours.

The Finn drove without fault all day but must now try to defend his lead on day two despite having to run first on the road. Although road position is unlikely to be a major factor on Friday’s opening stage, a lower starting position is deemed to be advantageous for the next two runs before midday service because there will be less loose surface gravel to contend with.

Ford will hope Latvala has built a sufficient cushion to stay out in front but will also be able to count on team leader Mikko Hirvonen, who starts fifth, to climb the leaderboard. To do that, he must overhaul a trio of Citroen C4 WRCs led by Sebastien Ogier, who is 1.6 seconds up on world championship leader Sebastien Loeb, and Petter Solberg, 0.7 seconds further back in fourth.

“We had a good road position today and I was very happy with the set-up of my Focus,” said Latvala. “I did a lot of work during the pre-event test and I think we got it right because I was very confident today. The team strategy was to help Mikko and keep the lead, which is what I’ve done. Thirty seconds is not so much and it’s going to be a long day tomorrow.”

Ogier’s target was to finish the day ahead of Loeb in order to help his team leader gain a better starting position for Friday’s stages. “I am pleased I met my target but I am a little surprised Latvala is so far in front,” said Ogier.

Loeb ran first on the road all day and went fastest on stage seven, the repeat of the Mount Nebo test. He said: “It was difficult today because you never know how much time you are going to lose. The stages were tricky with narrow sections and big rocks so I am happy to be here in third place.”

Solberg was second starting the final stage of the day but slowed to drop down the order to fourth in an effort to take advantage of cleaner road position on Friday.

“It has gone to plan because I’m where I want to be,” said Solberg, the 2003 world champion. “I was thinking about dropping another 10 seconds but that would have been too much.”

Dani Sordo slowed considerably on the final stage to slip from third to sixth after being instructed by his Citroen team to drop behind Hirvonen. Citroen hopes that Sordo, who will start behind Hirvonen, will be able to keep the pressure on the Finn by taking time out of him during the day.

Behind Henning Solberg and Matthew Wilson, Federico Villagra completed day one in ninth overall, one place ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, who recovered from going off the road on stage three to battle back into a point-scoring position.

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photos on under PHOTOS SLIDESHOWS and PHOTO Ecards WRC Rallyes by Willy Weyens


01.04.2010 / MaP

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