WRC Rally Italia Sardegna results: Ogier snatches a victory
Defending WRC champion and current overall leader Sébastien Ogier has won at Rally Italia Sardegna, but his win wasn’t as smooth as usual. The opening stage was conquered by Martin Prokop. The privately-entered Czech rally driver was the quickest by 1.3sec in a Ford Fiesta RS, outpacing Robert Kubica’s similar car. Dani Sordo, who was the fastest this morning at shakedown, was second quickest in a Hyundai i20 but he was issued a 10s penalty for a jump start which dropped him well. Andreas Mikkelsen was third in a Volkswagen Polo R, 1.7s behind Prokop. The Norwegian beat Thierry Neuville in their heat but the Belgian was fourth, a further 1.2sec behind in his i20.
Overnight rain left the gravel roads damper and cooler than expected and those who gambled on including soft tires in their selection this morning benefited. One of those was Paddon, who had two softs on the rear of his car. He was the fastest of the bunch in SS2 and SS3 and enjoyed cleaner roads offered by a low start position to win Grighine Sud by 5.3sec in his Hyundai i20, before outpacing the field by 11.0sec in Grighine Nord. Championship leader Ogier was second in SS2 but eighth in the more slippery SS3, while the second fastest time in SS3 promoted Jari-Matti Latvala into second in his Volkswagen Polo R. Having won the first two stages, the Hyundai i20 driver completed his hat-trick in the Montiferru test before wrapping up the morning with fifth in Sagama. Jari-Matti Latvala retained second and Sébastien Ogier climbed to third when team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen retired in SS4 after breaking the rear right suspension in SS3. Dani Sordo was fourth, although the Spaniard was frustrated at losing 1.6sec to stage winner Ogier in Sagama, the SS5.
Latvala was fastest through SS6, the repeated Sagama test by 2.1sec in his Volkswagen Polo R from Dani Sordo. The Finn was 4.2sec clear of Paddon to reduce the Hyundai driver’s lead to 18.8sec. Ott Tänak overshot a hairpin but regained the lost time when he won the SS7 (Sinis – Mont’ E Prama) test in his Ford Fiesta RS. During the repeated Grighine Sud, the SS8, Latvala was tied on time with his teammate Sébastien Ogier at the midpoint, but dropped 21.9sec in the second half as he limped through with a damaged rear left tire on his Volkswagen Polo R. Paddon was third through SS8 and second in SS9 and by that point had a 20.0s advance over Ogier.
On Saturday, the New Zealander yielded 1.4sec in the opening Ittiri Arena stage and 0.3sec in Monti di Ala’ to head the Frenchman by 7.1sec. During the two longest and hardest events of the weekend, Paddon shone, yet again increasing his lead over Ogier from 7.1s to 9.9s. The retirements of Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo ahead meant Ogier was cleaning the roads of gravel. He was fourth in Coiluna, after almost stalling at a hairpin, and third in Monte Lerno. During the SS15, Paddon was third fastest while Ogier ended the loop by reclaiming 0.6s when he was second in the Ozieri – Ardara stage. Ott Tänak was almost a minute behind Ogier in third in his Ford Fiesta RS, with Citroën’s Mads Østberg fourth in his DS 3. The SS15 was won by Latvala.
After Hayden Paddon spun his Hyundai i20 a third of the way into the Monti di Ala’ SS17, Ogier took the lead. The New Zealander said: At a right bend coming into a hairpin, the rear of the car got away and we spun at the hairpin. That wasn’t a big problem, but the engine wouldn’t restart and we lost about 10sec.” Ogier won the stage, thus eaning the leading position. Belgian driver Thierry Neuville climbed to third when Mads Ostberg went off the road, damaging his Citroën DS3 WRC, completing the final podium look during the Olmedo Monte Baranta, the SS20.