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Kris Meeke looks set to deny local hero Jari-Matti Latvala a third consecutive win at Neste Rally Finland after an outstanding performance in Saturday’s penultimate leg.

The Northern Irishman more than doubled his lead over Finn Latvala to 41.0sec, winning four of the eight super-fast forest speed tests in Citroën’s DS 3 and putting himself in sight of becoming the first British driver to win a rally traditionally dominated by Nordic pilots.

Restarting with an 18.1sec advantage, Meeke stamped his authority on the event with a stunning early-morning drive through the awesome Ouninpohja stage. The 33km challenge features more than 70 flat out jumps and is regarded as the sport’s biggest test of courage.

Meeke defeated Latvala by more than 13sec, leaving the home driver deflated. Latvala admitted Meeke’s Ouninpohja drive focused his mind on preserving second place in his Volkswagen Polo R rather than risking all in trying to hunt down the leader.

To prove his performance was no fluke, Meeke won the repeat pass through the test this afternoon as he further increased his lead.

“Today has been exceptional. Yesterday was one of the best days I’ve had in a rally car and today has surpassed that. I don’t know where I go from here! We have a job to do tomorrow – play it safe and try to bring it home,” said Meeke.

Latvala had a troublefree day to head Craig Breen by 64.4sec, the Irishman climbing from fifth in a DS 3 and on the verge of a maiden WRC podium.

Championship leader Sébastien Ogier won two stages and shared a fastest time with Østberg after brake problems delayed him this morning, while Lorenzo Bertelli and Eric Camilli both retired after rolling heavily.

Sunday’s final leg is a sprint. After a 07.00 start, drivers face two identical loops of two stages south of Jyväskylä covering 33.96km. There is no service after the start and the final Oittila test forms the live TV Power Stage, with bonus points for the fastest three drivers.

FIA World Rally Championship Round 8, Rally Finland
Overall Classification after Day Two
1.         K. Meeke / P. Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC) 2:22:00.8
2.         J. M. Latvala / M. Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +41.0
3.         C. Breen / S. Martin (Citroën DS3 WRC) +1:43.0
4.         O. Tanak / R. Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:54.5
5.         T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +2:00.9
6.         H. Paddon / J. Kennard (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +2:03.6
7.         M. Østberg / O. Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:06.0
8.         A. Mikkelsen / A. Jaeger (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +2:24.0
9.         E. Lappi / J. Ferm (Škoda Fabia R5) +4:23.6
10.        T. Suninen / M. Markkula (Škoda Fabia R5) +5:10.5

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