BARCELONA (Reuters) - Toyota’s Jari-Matti Latvala held off reigning champion Sebastien Ogier on Saturday to lead the Rally of Spain into its final day with the top six drivers separated by just 16.5 seconds.
The Finn took over at the top from Estonian team mate Ott Tanak, an outside contender in a three-way title battle, after the overnight leader lost a minute and 45 seconds with a front left puncture and dropped to eighth.
Latvala ended the day 4.7 seconds ahead of M-Sport Ford’s Ogier, with Hyundai’s championship leader Thierry Neuville climbing from ninth to fifth after two stage wins that left him 12.7 seconds off the lead.
Neuville leads Ogier by seven points with one round remaining in Australia after Spain. Tanak is 21 points behind Neuville.
“It’s really close, and anything is possible. I can say for sure that we will continue to fight hard. There’s all to play for on Sunday,” said Belgian Neuville.
Sunday’s final leg to the south of Barcelona features 61.70km of competitive stages, with bonus points available in the final Santa Marina power stage.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris