World Rally Championship

Sordo sustains Rally Italy lead over battling Ogier and Neuville

Dani Sordo holds a commanding 27.4-second lead over Toyota’s Sebastien Ogier after the second day of Rally Italy. Sordo, who won last year’s event, benefitted from his road position on Sardinia’s gravel stages on Friday’s six stages. The Spanaird recorded one fastest time on Saturday as he kept control of his rally lead.

Hyundai’s part-time driver was on course to set another fastest time on Saturday’s final stage but Ogier stole it from him on the last section.

“My tyres are completely destroyed,” admitted Sordo. “I was trying to manage this a bit before the end of the stage.

“I started to feel that the car was understeering too much so I took it a little bit careful.”

Ogier, meanwhile, is embroiled in a battle for second with championship rival Thierry Neuville with just 1.5-seconds separating the pair ahead of Sunday’s final four stages.

Neuville had held second until Saturday’s final stage but the Belgian misjudged his braking point into a right-hander on Stage 12, Tergu – Osilo. Neuville’s Hyundai i20 WRC slid wide into a round bale costing him a couple of seconds and an overnight Hyundai 1-2.

World Rally Championship leader, Elfyn Evans, is a further 29.5s behind Neuville and is fighting early rally-leader Teemu Suninen for fourth position. Evans finished Saturday 8.5s ahead of the sole-remaining M-Sport driver.

Suninen, who scored a mighty Stage 1 win, had started Saturday’s running in second. However, a handbrake problem in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC cost him time throughout three of the morning’s four stages.

Sordo, Ogier, Neuville, and Evans all slipped past the Finn before the problem was fixed in service.

After a suspension issue ruined his rally on Friday, Ott Tanak moved up from eighth to sixth throughout Saturday’s six stages. The reigning World Rally Champion is still over a minute behind fifth-placed Suninen and looks set to lose crucial championship points this weekend.

Tanak inherited his sixth position from Gus Greensmith on Stage 10. Greensmith didn’t make it to the start-line of Coiluna – Loelle because of a broken alternator belt on his Fiesta WRC.

Pierre-Louis Loubet was another to benefit from Greensmith’s retirement as he moved up to seventh overall.

Kalle Rovanpera was an early victim of Rally Italy’s second leg as an overoptimistic pacenote meant he drifted wide and caught a tree on Stage 8. The collision spun his Toyota Yaris WRC around before another tree brought it to a sudden stop.

Four stages await the crews on the final day of Rally Italy. As Ogier and Neuville battle for second, the points will be just as important in the manufacturers’ championship as they will be for the drivers’ championship.

Rally Italy after Stage 12: (End of Day 2 )

1 D. Sordo / C. del Barrio (Hyundai) 2:14:35.5
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Toyota) +27.4s
3 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai) +28.9
4 E. Evans / S. Martin (Toyota) +58.4
5 T. Suninen / J. Lehtinen +1:06.9
6 O. Tanak / M. Jarveoja +2:25.3

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motorsport

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