Dani Sordo admitted he can’t afford to fall asleep if he’s to stay ahead of Sebastien Ogier and Theirry Neuville with two stages remaining on Rally Italy. Sordo’s 27.4-second lead over Ogier dropped to 15.3s after Sunday’s first stage, Cala Flumini.
The Spaniard went slightly quicker than Ogier on the second stage to increase the gap to just over 16 seconds as he aims to defend his 2019 Rally Italy win.
Neuville went fastest on Stage 14 to heighten the battle between himself and second-placed Ogier. Only 0.1 seconds separate Neuville and Ogier.
“I gave it everything,” said Neuville. “I don’t know how I could do more, to be honest. It was a tricky stage but I kept it flat out so hopefully it’s enough.”
Fourth-placed Elfyn Evans has increased his cushion over M-Sport’s Teemu Suninen to 33 seconds. However, the World Rally Championship leader is too far behind his rivals ahead to challenge for a podium position.
Suninen, who was lying second after Rally Italy’s opening day, admitted he just couldn’t match the pace of Evans’ Toyota after losing 24 seconds to the Welshman on Cala Flumini.
“Not really [anything wrong],” said Suninen at the end of Stage 14. “We tried our best and it wasn’t enough.”
Ott Tanak remains on his own in sixth position overall. His early road position has hindered any chance of a comeback through the leaderboard.
The Estonian’s sole aim now is a good result on the Power Stage. Cleaner stages on the second loop should make this more achievable as he only managed a brace of fifth-fastest times on Sunday’s first two stages.
“It’s very low grip, it’s completely dry,” said Tanak after the first pass of Sassari – Argentiera. “I tried to do a good run and for the moment I can’t do much more but the second loop will be different for sure.”
Pierre-Louis Loubet admitted he was taking a cautious approach over Sunday’s opening two stages. Sitting in seventh overall, the young Frenchman is aiming for his first WRC finish of the season.
Takamoto Katsuta’s trialing weekend continued as his rally came to an abrupt end on Sassari – Argentiera.
The Japanese driver crashed on a narrow section 50 seconds into the stage. He clipped a rock on the inside of a fast left-hander which flung his Toyota Yaris WRC into the air. The car rolled a couple of times before landing back on its four wheels blocking the road and facing the wrong way.
Katsuta and Daniel Barritt were unable to move the car themselves so the stage was delayed for a few minutes while marshals helped clear the road.
Rally Italy after Stage 14:
1 D. Sordo / C. del Barrio (Hyundai) 2:28:15.2s
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Toyota) +16.1s
3 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai) +16.2
4 E. Evans / S. Martin (Toyota) +55.9
5 T. Suninen / J. Lehtinen (M-Sport Ford) +1:28.9
6 O. Tanak / M. Jarveoja (Hyundai) +2:31.2
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