FIA World Rally Championship

Latvala Leads Rally Australia After Passing Hirvonen

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Jari-Matti Latvala leads Rally Australia by 22.7 seconds going into the final day after moving ahead of Ford teammate Mikko Hirvonen on Saturday's first stage.

Hirvonen, who had taken the rally lead when both Citroens of Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier crashed out on Friday, began the day with a seven second lead over Latvala. However, he was forced to run first on the loose gravel and Latvala was 10.4s quicker on the first stage.

Latvala won the remaining three stages on the morning loop to extend his lead to 17.2s, before stretching that to 22.7s over the repeat loop and the final two superspecials. Tomorrow the younger Finn will have to sweep the road, and team orders could well come into play too. A win for Hirvonen would bring him close to the non-scoring Loeb in the championship standings.

Petter Solberg remains third, but has slipped to just under a minute off the lead after struggling with the set-up of his privately-entered Citroen during the morning stages. His brother Henning Solberg was running fourth until his M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta stopped with an electrical glitch on SS15. This promoted teammate Matthew Wilson to a career-best-equalling fourth, while Khalid Al Qassimi is on course for his best ever result in fifth.

Hayden Paddon lost his lead of the PWRC category during the morning stages when his Subaru developed a turbo problem, but he was able to take it back during the afternoon and lies sixth overall. Michal Kosciuszko, Oleksandr Saliuk and Benito Guerra fill positions seven to nine.

Evgeny Novikov has moved into the top ten after restarting under superally. Ogier and Loeb are 11th and 16th respectively after restarting, having shared the afternoon's six stage wins between them.

Top ten positions after SS20:

Pos No Driver Team Car Time/Gap
1. 4 Jari-Matti Latvala Ford Abu Dhabi Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2:43:47.4
2. 3 Mikko Hirvonen Ford Abu Dhabi Ford Fiesta RS WRC +22.7
3. 11 Petter Solberg PSWRT Citroen DS3 WRC +59.5
4. 5 Matthew Wilson M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +5:53.7
5. 10 Khalid Al Qassimi Abu Dhabi Ford Fiesta RS WRC +9:24.4
6. 38 Hayden Paddon Symtech Subaru Impreza WRX STi +13:29.2
7. 22 Michal Kosciuszko Lotos Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +13:32.1
8. 30 Oleksandr Saliuk Mentos Ascania Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +15:33.1
9. 39 Benito Guerra GMA Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +16:35.0
10. 6 Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +17:00.8
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Peter joined the TCF team in September 2010 and covers GP2 and GP3 along with WTCC and Formula Two. You can find him on twitter at @PeteAllen_
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