Hanninen closing on Russia Rally win
Finland's Juho Hanninen remains on course for a dominant Rally Russia victory after the penultimate loop of stages.
Ten of the 11 stages run have seen Hanninen's Skoda Fabia top the times, with only a fired-up Anton Alen taking SS11 from him this morning in his Abarth Grande Punto, after restarting the event under Superally regulations.
Given the pounding that has been meted out by the rocky Russian terrain so far this weekend, many are opting for a conservative approach to the final loop of the event. There is little to be gained and much to be lost, with sizeable gaps now among the spread-out field.
The most recent retirement is that of Aleksandr Zheludov, the Russian national champion, whose Peugeot 207 expired on SS12, costing Franz Wittmann a few seconds to negotiate the stricken car.
For Alen, now consistently on the leader's tail through the stages, it has been a frustrating experience.
"I was hoping my bad luck would stop over here, but apparently not yet. I hope in the next rally," he said. "OK, this chassis is quite old. But I don't know why it broke yesterday. We'll see."