Loeb Takes Control Over Rally Ireland
Urmo Aava, former leader of the rally following Jari-Matti Latvala's retirement after SS2, lost almost 40 seconds to the Frenchman at the end of SS4, finishing the stage in 5th place. Citroen Junior newly-signed Chris Atkinson ended the stage with the 4th best time, and climbed all the way into 9th place in the overall classification, only 0.3 seconds behind Stobart Ford's Matthew Wilson.
One man's loss meant another one's gain, as Loeb is now comfortably leading the pack by more than half-of-minute to second placed Aava. Following the Estonian's performance during SS4, the drivers now in 2nd, 3rd (Dani Sordo) and 4th place (Mikko Hirvonen) are separated by less that 3 seconds in the overall classification.
Henning Solberg, Conrad Rautenbach and Gareth MacHale managed to maintain their 5th, 6th and 7th place respectively in the overall classification, while Matthew Wilson managed to make the scoreboard ahead of 9th place Atkinson.
As far as Latvala is concerned, Ford works team boss Malcolm Wilson admitted there is little hope that the Finnish driver can still bring some points home for his team, as he is set to re-join the field on the SuperRally rule.
“It’s a huge disappointment for the team. We knew this wouldn’t be one of our strongest rallies, but we were looking for some reasonable points. But there’s a long way to go. Hopefully we can get Jari out there again tomorrow to get some more experience,” revealed Wilson.