Sébastien Loeb holds onto the lead

The first two stages of day three saw Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena slightly extend their lead over Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen. The gap between the two Citroën Total WRT crews is now 7.4s.

The long final leg began with first runs on the Surkee and Leustu stages. After SS13, Mikko Hirvonen was left frowning after conceding 3.9s to Sébastien Loeb: “I wanted to push very hard right from the start of the stage. The road was narrow and I clipped an old tree stump. I thought we had damaged the car because we were sliding a lot when we drove through a wider section. In actual fact, there was no problem, but I lost time. But we’re still in it and the fight goes on!”

Mikko set the fastest time on SS14 while Sébastien Loeb experienced similar feelings to those of his team-mate on SS13: “I hadn’t hit anything, but it felt like we had a puncture on the rear-left tyre. And then I felt the car was okay, so I was able to start going flat out again! It’s strange; undoubtedly a lot of stuff goes on in your head. You have to know how to interpret the various grip changes.”

Having rejoined under Rally 2 regulations, Thierry Neuville set two top-ten times: “We’re just looking to pick up experience on these stages, but it’s not easy because Nicolas has lost his voice. So I’m taking it fairly easy.” Also back in the rally, Chris Atkinson is rebuilding his confidence whilst having to deal with running second on the road, which means he has contend with sweeping a fine layer of dust off the racing line.

The competitors have already set off for their second runs on these stages; they are due to start arriving back in Jyväskylä from 1.29pm onwards.

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