Citroen teammates Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier remain at the head of the field in Rally Finland, just ahead of Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala in a close three-way battle for the victory heading into the final day.
Coming into Friday's stages with a narrow lead over Ogier after the opening three tests on Thursday evening, Loeb had to run first on the road. Despite this he maintained the lead over his teammate until SS9 Hyvaneula 2, when the younger Frenchman finally moved ahead.
Ogier won SS10 Jokimaa to extend his lead to 1.9s over Loeb, but once again the leading contenders deployed slowing tactics on the final stage of the day, SS11 Mynilla.
Loeb chose to check in one minute late for the stage, earning himself a ten second penalty. He then posted the fastest time on the stage itself. Ogier meanwhile dropped 13.4s to Loeb in the stage, which means that even with Loeb's penalty taken into account Ogier slips 1.5s behind Loeb.
Latvala, who had been unable to close the gap to the Citroens during the course of the day, also backed off to ensure he remained third overall. He wasn't as slow as Ogier however on the final stage, allowing him to close up to just 2.6s behind Loeb.
Jari Ketomaa, who led the rally after SS1 on Thursday, began the day in fourth in his privately-entered Ford. He slipped behind Petter Solberg and down to fifth on the first stage of the day, but his rally came to an end when he rolled on SS8.
Solberg holds a lonely fourth place, nearly 30s behind Loeb and a similar margin ahead of fellow Norwegian Mads Ostberg. M-Sport-Stobart driver Ostberg began the day in eighth, jumping both Ott Tanak and Dani Sordo on the opening stage before taking Ketomaa's place when the Finn crashed out.
After beginning the day two minutes down and in 36th overall after his troubles on Thursday, Mikko Hirvonen won five stages on his way to sixth place overall. He has reduced the gap to the leaders down by half a minute. Hirvonen passed Sordo on the final stage of the day, the Spaniard enjoying another day without major issues in his Mini. Teammate Kris Meeke is one place behind him in eighth.
Juho Hanninen has taken control of the Super 2000 category, having dispatched of the fast-starting Tanak and moved into ninth place during at the end of the morning loop. Two spins have dropped Tanak down the order, losing a lot of time after his car refused to restart after stalling after the first spin.
Henning Solberg is just behind Hanninen tenth overall, with teammate Matthew Wilson and Citroen driver Kimi Raikkonen fighting over 11th place behind.
Top ten positions after SS11:
|1.||1||Sebastien Loeb||Citroen Total||Citroen DS3 WRC||1:29:01.3|
|2.||2||Sebastien Ogier||Citroen Total||Citroen DS3 WRC||+1.5|
|3.||4||Jari-Matti Latvala||Ford Abu Dhabi||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||+2.6|
|4.||11||Petter Solberg||PSWRT||Citroen DS3 WRC||+29.2|
|5.||3||Mikko Hirvonen||Ford Abu Dhabi||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||+1:00.1|
|6.||6||Mads Ã˜stberg||M-Sport Stobart||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||+1:28.7|
|7.||37||Dani Sordo||Mini||Mini John Cooper Works WRC||+1:36.2|
|8.||52||Kris Meeke||Mini||Mini John Cooper Works WRC||+1:51.0|
|9.||25||Juho HÃ¤nninen||Red Bull Skoda||Skoda Fabia S2000||+2:04.0|
|10.||15||Henning Solberg||M-Sport Stobart||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||+2:06.1|