Stage data: SS14, Monte Olia 2 (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:
Sebastien Ogier has fought back on Rally Italia Sardegna by snatching fifth place from Chris Atkinson on Saturday’s final stage. Despite his Super 2000-specification Skoda Fabia producing less power than Atkinson’s MINI John Cooper Works WRC, the Frenchman was able to outpace his Australian rival to hold a slender margin of 3.9s heading into day four.
“It’s been another very good day and I’m very happy with this,” said Ogier. “We were close to the limit but we have to be if we are to fight a World Rally Car.”
Meanwhile, Mads Ostberg has completed the penultimate day of the FIA World Rally Championship qualifier in style with his fourth stage win on the gravel event. Driving a Ford Fiesta RS WRC for the privateer Adapta World Rally Team, Ostberg was 1.3s quicker than factory Ford pilot Jari-Matti Latvala.
“I’m very happy with the day, everything is working well and we’ve been able to push without doing anything stupid,” said Ostberg.
Latvala’s Ford team-mate Petter Solberg was third fastest, 2.3s slower than fellow Norwegian Ostberg.
Out front, Mikko Hirvonen, in a Citroen DS3 WRC, has preserved his healthy lead over Russian Evgeny Novikov, which stands at 1m28.2s after 14 special stages.
Crews now have a 45-minute service prior to the overnight halt in Olbia. Sunday’s action consists of two runs over the 8.24-kilometre Gallura stage with the first pass getting underway at 09:20hrs local time. The second pass, at 11:00hrs, counts as the event-closing Power Stage.