Sébastien Ogier heads the leaderboard of Rally Italia Sardegna, the seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship. With three stage wins to his credit, the Frenchman sits ahead of Mikko Hirvonen and Thierry Neuville after a long and hot day of competition on the Mediterranean island.
The event got underway last night in the city of Sassari, but today the crews headed to the hills for the first of two days of competition. Today’s route took in four stages, each repeated, with the final stage through Gallura run in darkness, adding to what is already a tough challenge for the crews.
Ogier started the day in commanding style by winning the first stage and gradually pulled ahead of the chasing pack after a trouble-free run in the Polo R WRC. Behind him, Hirvonen, Mads Østberg, Neuville and Dani Sordo have been in an exciting battle and split by just a handful of seconds. However, Ostberg slipped back in the sixth stage after a spin, elevating Neuville - also the winner of two stages - to third. And then, in the final night stage, Østberg rolled into retirement.
Sordo has had a steady run and now holds fourth after an uneventful day. The two Volkswagens of Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen are fifth and sixth respectively, Latvala’s rally off to a bad start when he finished the opening stage with the tyre completely shredded. He lost nearly two minutes but has set a blistering pace otherwise, notching up three stage victories. Martin Prokop holds seventh, the Czech driver lucky to escape damage after hitting a wall in stage two. Other than Østberg, the leading retirement of the day was Evgeny Novikov, the Russian rolling his Fiesta after clipping a wall.
The final day of competition on Saturday is another long and tough day and takes in a further eight stages and 157.38 competitive kilometres.
Rally Italia Sardegna – Unofficial Results after Day 1