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WRC – Tänak flies to the front in Sardinia

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2019 Rally Italia Sardegna – Saturday morning

2019 Rally Italia Sardegna - O. Tänak / M. Järveoja

Ott Tänak surged into the lead of Rally Italia Sardegna on Saturday morning, the Toyota driver setting the fastest time in all three stages to take the top spot away from Hyundai’s Dani Sordo.

Saturday morning's loop on the Mediterranean island was made up of three classic Sardinian tests to the east of Alghero, totalling 71.21 competitive kilometres and rounded out by the famous Monte Lerno stage and its hugely popular Micky’s Jump.

As was the case on Friday, there was a diverse range of tyre choices among the crews. While rally leader Sordo went for five hard tyres, Tänak opted for three mediums and two hards. Tänak’s decision quickly paid off in SS10, allowing the Estonian to move past Teemu Suninen to take second place and reduce Sordo’s advantage from 6.5 to 4.7 seconds.

In SS11, Tänak took 2.1 second out of Sordo and in SS12, he was nine seconds quicker, despite suffering a stall on a hairpin. He now leads Sordo by 6.4 seconds, heading into the afternoon loop.

Teemu Suninen also left the morning service with five hard tyres and although he couldn’t match the times of Tänak or Sordo, he consolidated his podium place, opening up a gap of 27.9 seconds over M-Sport team-mate Elfyn Evans.

Andreas Mikkelsen and Evans began the day just 0.1 second apart and traded places in every stage during the morning. Evans won out in SS12 with a tight advantage of 2.6 seconds after Mikkelsen ran wide into a wall near the end of the stage.

Kris Meeke has run steadily through the morning to maintain his sixth position, 10.8 second behind Mikkelsen.

After an eventful Friday, Thierry Neuville struggled during the morning, regretting his choice of hard tyres and confessing he wasn’t able to find the confidence. He is now 51.9 seconds behind Meeke in seventh, with Esapekka Lappi 20.1 seconds further back in eighth.

Rally restarter Sébastien Ogier was due to run first on the road, but the Frenchman checked in late in the first stage of the morning to run third ahead of his team-mate Lappi. He started SS11 even further back in the order, before stopping to fix a damaged left-rear suspension, which continued to hamper him in SS12.

Kalle Rovanperä continues to lead FIA WRC 2 Pro in ninth overall with his Škoda Fabia R5 Evo, moving ahead of FIA WRC 2 leader Pierre-Louis Loubet, who closes the top 10.

In the FIA WRC 2 Pro battle, Jan Kopecky is second with a gap of 20.1 seconds to his Škoda team-mate, while Citroën’s Mads Ostberg is about 10 minutes behind his rivals.

WRC 2 contender Nikolay Gryazin dropped out of second when he ripped off a wheel of his Škoda on SS10, promoting Takamoto Katsuta. Kajetan Kajetanowitz is third.

Dennis Rådström remains out front in the FIA Junior WRC category, with Jan Solans passing Tom Kristensson for second.