Half this stage comprises roads used in the opposite direction to last year and the remaining half is new. It starts among a group of wind turbines and runs on roads that have been made to get the trucks up to them. As such they are wide and fast, climbing and descending with some great corners. After 10km the stage reverts to a more natural format - still fast but narrower.
How the action unfolded:
Sebastien Ogier has won the Rally Italia Sardegna Power Stage to earn three FIA World Rally Championship bonus points in his Volkswagen Polo R.
And with a handsome rally lead of 1min17s, the Frenchman looks set to add another 25 points to this appetiser on the next decisive stage.
Ogier was one second quicker than Ford Fiesta RS driver Thierry Neuville, who collects two points, with Jari-Matti Latvala claiming the final point in his Volkswagen Polo R.
“It was good for us, I’m happy with that,” Ogier said at the stage end. “I was watching the splits from Thierry and he was quite fast, so we had to drive fast to catch him.”
Neuville had been following Latvala’s splits through the stage, and upped his pace as the Finn seemed to find another gear in the second half. “I was happy early on when I saw I was up on Jari’s time, but he got some back so I had to push on again,” he said.
“From the look of the split times it was always going to be tight,” added Latvala. “I felt I was improving throughout the stage, and I made no mistakes, but for sure he’s doing well.”
Dani Sordo, meanwhile, was content to let his rivals fight for the bonus points. “Better to take the fourth place than risk it here and perhaps get nothing,” he said.
Further back, Michal Kosciuszko had the upper hand in the ongoing battle with Elfyn Evans for sixth.
The Pole was 3.1sec quicker than Evans through the stage, and now trails him by 2.2 sec with one stage remaining. “We tried to push a little bit more and now we have a few seconds back,” said Kosciuszko. “One stage to go and the fight is pretty open. Let’s see.”
Evans said: “Obviously I’m keeping one eye on him, but it’s not the most important thing. At the end of the day I’m here to finish the rally, so we’re being cautious now.”
Mads Ostberg’s bid for Power Stage glory ended on the road section from SS14. “I stopped to check the car and noticed the right-hand rear shock absorber wasn’t working. With just the spring to absorb the bumps it was very difficult and I could not push. We could only take it steady to make sure we get to the end.”
There was drama in the WRC-3 category, when the Citroen DS3 R3T of leader Stephane Consani stopped at the finish control. The Frenchman has a 14sec advantage over Christian Riedemann in a similar car. Consani and his co-driver Maxime Vilmot pushed the car clear of the control and are battling to get it going.