16 May 08
Jari-Matti Latvala took the lead of the Rally d’Italia Sardinia after a lightning performance on the opening test.
Latvala completed the 16.43km Monte Corvos section seven seconds quicker than any other driver and said he felt very comfortable with his pace. “Yes, it was a good start,” said Latvala. “The road is very technical and tricky but it seems our car is going well here. It felt really good. Let’s keep it going.”
Latvala said that running as fourth car through the stage had given him a cleaner road than the drivers ahead and his strategy was to maximise this advantage by pushing hard on the morning loop.
Citroen's Dani Sordo, the fifth driver through the stage, set the second fastest time.
Championship leader Mikko Hirvonen and defending champion Sebastien Loeb, the first and second cars through respectively, said they had found the going tough.
Hirvonen completed the test 16sec slower than his team-mate Latvala. “The road is incredibly slippery,” said Hirvonen. “And it’s so narrow that it’s almost impossible to keep the car on the road.”
Loeb was fourth fastest, and satisfied to be eight seconds quicker than his title rival Hirvonen. “Okay, my time compared to Mikko is good but Latvala is faster,” said the Frenchman. “I think there’s a lot of road cleaning and it’s slippery for us. The other factor is the tyres - for the first loop we’d normally use a softer tyre, but this time we’ve only got the hard compound, so it’s hard. But okay, the first one is out of the way, that’s good.”