October 04, 2014

STRASBOURG, France (AP) Jari-Matti Latvala continued to dominate the Rally de France on Saturday to extend his overall lead and move closer to a first asphalt victory.

The Finn started with a hat trick of victories in the morning's special stages on fast roads used during this year's Tour de France and set the fastest time in the next stage after changing his car setup.

Latvala then fought off the strong challenge offered by Volkswagen teammate Andreas Mikkelsen and finished the day with a comfortable cushion of 28 seconds before Sunday's final stage.

''I changed the setup a little bit and the car was slightly nervous on the bumps but on the smooth sections it was really good,'' said Latvala, looking to win his fourth race of the season. ''I feel I've found a good rhythm.''

After world champion Sebastien Ogier recovered from Friday's disastrous run by claiming two stages, Latvala capped the day with another win in the super special stage held on the streets of Mulhouse.

With just over 63 kilometers (40 miles) to run on Sunday, Latvala is likely to take a cautious approach on Sunday after he missed out on a first asphalt win in August at the German Rally when he carried a lead into the final day but crashed.

Kris Meeke was third, 53.7 seconds off the pace in his Citroen DS3, while Dani Sordo held off a challenge from Robert Kubica for fourth to finish 0.9 seconds ahead of the Polish driver.

Ogier lost nearly nine minutes on Latvala when his engine cut out on Friday and is no longer a contender for the podium here. The Frenchman, who won his title at this race last year, has six wins for Volkswagen this season and entered the race with a 50-point lead over Latvala with only two races to go.

Ogier had a chance to clinch the title on home soil but must now wait until the next race in Spain in three weeks.

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