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Ralllying: Latvala takes control of Acropolis Rally as rivals falter

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala seized the lead in the Acropolis Rally on Saturday as the Volkswagen driver took advantage of a puncture suffered by first day pace setter Evgeny Novikov and will go into the final day with a lead of 1min 04secs lead over Citroen's Dani Sordo of Spain with Belgium's Thierry Neuville third in a Ford Fiesta a further 39secs back.

Latvala is set to close ground in the overall standings after coming into the weekend fourth and 73 points behind championship leader Sebastien Ogier of France.

Ogier bounced back from a disastrous opening day when he was penalised 10 minutes due to technical problems and climbed to 10th overall, just two places behind former world champion Mikko Hirvonen, who encountered major steering problems behind the wheel of his Citroen on day one.

Light rain towards the finish allowed the three leaders to ease home with comfortable overall leads ahead of the rest of the field

"I was a little worried when I saw the rain because I thought it was going to get slippy," explained Latvala.

"Okay, we lost grip in one or two places, and went wide a couple of times, but otherwise it turned out to be a good stage.

"We had to take a few wide turns but we've come out of the day in good shape." continued the 28-year-old, who is bidding for a eighth career victory and first since the Rally of Wales in 2012.

Norwegian Mads Ostberg, who came into the weekend fifth in the driver standings also returned to form after difficulties on Friday and moved up from ninth to sixth in the second Ford.

Meanwhile, Qatari's former Olympic shooting medallist Nasser Al-Attiyah lies fourth in his Volkswagen but 3min 46secs back and just in front of another Norwegian and teammate Andreas Mikkelsen, who is at 4min 11secs.

There are four specials on Sunday that includes a final 30km power stage leading to the rally finish at Loutraki.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130601/ralllying-latvala-takes-control-acropolis-rally-rivals-falter