Stage data: SS11, Monte Olia 1 (14.12 kilometres)
By WRC Team MINI Portugal co-driver Stephane Prevot: “Last year this stage was run once but now it’s run twice, which could be a problem because it has a particularly soft surface. The final part is in the forests and it’s tight and slow and a bit shorter than before.”
How the action unfolded:
Mads Ostberg is now 11.2s behind Chris Atkinson in what is now a three-way battle for fourth place on Rally Italia Sardegna.
Ostberg, driving for the Adapta World Rally Team, was 11.8s quicker through the stage than WRC Team MINI Portugal’s Atkinson. They have both edged closer to Volkswagen Motorsport’s Sebastien Ogier, who said his decision to fit a long-ratio gearbox to his Super 2000-specification Skoda Fabia has affected his outright speed.
“All the stages have been quite strong this morning,” said Ostberg, who was quickest on the stage in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC. “It’s been quite tricky on hard tyres but we’ve pushed hard and really enjoyed it.”
Atkinson, who is now 3.3s behind fourth-placed Ogier, said: “I’m trying everything I can but we’ve already had some moments so you start to worry.”
Following his exit on Friday, Jari-Matti Latvala is spending today experimenting with different settings on his works Fiesta in preparation for the gravel leg of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana next month. “I’m trying to get the feeling for Spain and the confidence on gravel,” said Latvala, who was second fastest, 3.7s down on Ostberg.
Out front, Mikko Hirvonen has grown his lead to 1m18.7s after going third quickest in his Citroen DS3 WRC. “For sure I can just take it steady without having to push but it’s not easy because you have to keep the rhythm,” said the Finn.
Thierry Neuville, in a Qatar World Rally Team Citroen, said running third on the road on such a slippery surface was a “new experience”. He also said he was experiencing some pain from his burnt hands.
Italian privateer Luca Pedersoli described an “amazing atmosphere” on the stages due to the huge numbers of fans watching the action.
Crews are now heading to Olbia for a regroup and service halt. Stage 12, the repeat of Coiluna-Loelle, gets underway at 14:48hrs local time.