Ogier splashes his way through the Sweet Lamb stage

Sébastian Ogier

Sébastien Ogier has extended his advantage over the chasing pack after the Frenchman topped all three afternoon stages on day two of Wales Rally GB.

Carrying a slender overnight lead following the opening action in North Wales on Thursday evening, the WRC circus headed west on Thursday to contest the same three stages in both the morning and afternoon sessions.

Ogier had already pulled clear on the maiden runs through Hafren, Sweet Lamb and Myherin, and the newly crowned World Rally Champion continued where he’d left off earlier in the day – this time setting the quickest pace on all three runs.

Volkswagen scored a 1-2-3 on the 32.14km afternoon blast through Hafren, with Ogier leading from his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala. Andreas Mikkelsen rounded out a fine run for the German marque after impressively hauling his VW Polo R WRC up to third on the stage.

Ogier also led Latvala for stages eight and nine with the pair separated by 20s at the conclusion of the day. Their nearest rivals were more than a minute off the ultimate pace.

“It has been a good day,” said Ogier. “It will be a big fight with Jari – he is pushing hard. I am on the limit, but always considering the conditions.”

Latvala seemingly overstepped those limits on Friday’s final stage, which he believes could prove crucial in the fight for victory. “I’m bitterly disappointed,” he said. “I had a huge moment in there and I think I lost at least five seconds.”

Thierry Neuville is still the main challenger to the lead VW pair, but the Qatar World Rally Team star continued to fade during the afternoon, eventually dropping closer to those in arrears rather than challenging Ogier and Latvala at the summit of the standings.

The Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team Fords of Evgeny Novikov and Mads Østberg outpaced Neuville in the short 4.26km RallyFest stage at Sweet Lamb and subsequently closed in on their stable-mate in the race for third place.

“I gave my best,” said Neuville. “I am still the quickest Ford and without the two Polos ahead I would look quite good!” The Belgian will be looking over his shoulder, however, as both Østberg and Novikov pegged the gap in the final 32.13km Myherin stage of the day. Mikkelsen’s own chances of scoring a podium are not out of the question either with the third VW Polo lying just 1.1s behind Russian Novikov.

Citroën’s disastrous day was largely over before it had even got going when Robert Kubica and Mikko Hirvonen both crashed their respective DS3s out of contention. Dani Sordo has shown flashes of pace, however, topping one stage and coming home second in another, but the Spaniard remains down the order after incurring a pre-event five-minute penalty.

Britons Elfyn Evans and Mark Higgins are heading the WRC2 standings. Welshman Evans currently holds a 20s advantage as the young talent looks to score a maiden class victory.

With nine of the 22 stages now complete, Wales Rally GB and indeed the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship now moves into its final weekend. Seven stages tomorrow are headlined by the two RallyFest runs at Chirk Castle before the WRC season comes to a close with seven stages on Sunday ­– concluding at the Great Orme in front an expected bumper crowd.

Wales Rally GB – 2013 World Rally Championship – Provisional Results:

After 9 of 22 stages – Top Ten – Thursday 14 November

1. Sébastien OGIER Volkswagen Motorsport 1:34:48.0s
2. Jari-Matti LATVALA Volkswagen Motorsport +20.1s
3. Thierry NEUVILLE Qatar World Rally Team +1:02.6s
4. Mads ØSTBERG Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team +1:30.8s
5. Evgeny NOVIKOV Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team +1:34.5s
6. Andreas MIKKELSEN Volkswagen Motorsport II +1:35.6s
7. Martin PROKOP Jipocar Czech National Team +4:56.2s
8. Elfyn EVANS* Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team +6:30.2s
9. Dani SORDO Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT +6.54.6s
10. Mark HIGGINS* Symtech Racing +6.56.6s

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