WRC – Ogier heads shuffled pack

08.06.18

Rally Italia Sardegna - Friday afternoon

After one of the trickiest days of competition during the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship season, Sebastien Ogier has climbed the leaderboard from fifth to first during the repeated loop of Rally Italia Sardegna stages. The reigning World Champion, who is fighting to regain his lead in the series, heads Thierry Neuville by 18.9 seconds after nearly 130 competitive kilometres. Ott Tänak, third after the penultimate stage, fell by the wayside in the final stage promoting team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala into the final provisional podium position.

Friday morning proved a challenge for the crews, but weather conditions early afternoon were even more treacherous with heavier rain, mud and standing water in ruts carved out during the first passage. Going into the afternoon, Ogier was 23 seconds off Andreas Mikkelsen’s lead but the Frenchman stormed through the event’s most notorious stage to claim the win and a 3.5-second advantage over the Norwegian. He then pulled further ahead in the second stage when Mikkelsen spun and plummeted down the leaderboard with a suspected gearbox problem. Ogier too had a small gear-shifting issue but the Frenchman maintained his pace, now ahead of second placed Neuville, to close the day with 18.9 seconds in hand. Neuville admitted he may not have pushed hard enough in the first stage having also spun, but he bounced back in the third test to take the stage win and stay within striking distance of his nearest Championship rival. Following Tänak’s heavy landing and radiator damage in the final stage, Teemu Suninen looked set to take third but after a great day of competition the Finn ran wide on a right-hander, pitching him down a bank and into bushes. With both Tänak and Suninen on the sidelines, Latvala moved to third overnight after a day when he has largely lacked confidence in the car, although in the drier conditions in the final stage he set fastest time.

Esapekka Lappi has been trying to keep it clean after this morning’s puncture and is only 4.4 seconds adrift of team-mate Latvala. Mads Østberg has moved into fifth but the Norwegian was disappointed to make the same tyre choice error as this morning. He is ahead of Hayden Paddon who has also found it impossible to choose the right tyres for the conditions. Craig Breen rounds out the leading WRC runners, the Irish driver seventh overall despite a number of stalls when pulling the handbrake on in hairpins, and an overshoot. Mikkelsen was ultimately forced to retire later in the afternoon when transmission problems left his i20 Coupe WRC jammed in reverse gear. Elfyn Evans remains outside the top 20 after breaking the steering this morning.

In the FIA WRC 2 Championship, Stephane Lefebvre takes the lead with 14 seconds in hand to Jan Kopecky, the R5 drivers holding eighth and ninth respectively with Nicolas Ciamin third in the category and rounding out the top 10. The battle in the FIA WRC 3 Championship also continues, with Taisko Lario now taking the advantage over Jean-Baptiste Franceschi, the pair split by 11.4 seconds overnight.

Saturday’s leg is the longest and covers 146.14 competitive kilometres over two identical loops of three stages split by a revised Ittiri super special stage.

Rally Italia Sardegna – Unofficial results after Section 3

1

Sebastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia

Ford Fiesta WRC

1hr 35min 56.9sec

2

Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

1hr 36min 15.8sec

3

Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila

Toyota Yaris WRC

1hr 36min 34.1sec

4

Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm

Toyota Yaris WRC

1hr 36min 38.5sec

5

Mads Østberg / Torstein Eriksen

Citroen C3 WRC

1hr 36min 55.2sec

6

Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshall

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

1hr 36min 58.4sec

7

Craig Breen / Scott Martin

Citroen C3 WRC

1hr 37min 22.9sec

8

Stephane Lefebvre / Gabin Moreau

Citroen C3 R5

1hr 39min 59.8sec

9

Jan Kopecky / Pavel Dresler

Škoda Fabia R5

1hr 40min 13.8sec

10

Nicolas Ciamin / Thibault de la Haye

Hyundai I20 R5

1hr 41min 17.6sec