This is the only stage that is identical to last year when it was run for the first time. It is smooth and sandy, and will quickly become rutted. It is mostly narrow, technical and undulating but offers a little bit of everything - tight and twisty sections, hairpins, rocks lining the road and a 1.6km asphalt main road. As such it has no real flow and it is hard to generate a rhythm.
How the action unfolded:
In third place after the opening stage, Evgeny Novikov rolled out of today’s competition on the second.
The young Russian put his Fiesta RS off the road in the opening kilometre of the notoriously tricky Castelsardo test. Both he and his co-driver Ilka Minor are okay.
The stage was won by Volkwsagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala, who rolled himself here in 2012.
“My time was quite good but it was very slippery,“ he said. “I was distracted early on because somebody [Novikov] had gone off but there was no warning triangle. I nearly hit the car. But basically everything is okay. It’s a shame about the puncture earlier but we just have to accept that.”
Second fastest in his Polo R, rally leader Sebastien Ogier echoed his team-mate’s opinion on the road conditions: “Very slippery and a lot of loose gravel - for sure it would have been worse for the guys ahead. For us okay, it was a good drive.”
Sure enough, the slippery conditions had caused plenty of problems for the drivers further up the start order.
Dani Sordo was third fastest but spun his Citroen DS3 WRC immediately after the flying finish. “It was okay though, no problems,” the Spaniard reported. “I wasn’t here last year so it’s my first time on this stage.”
Volkswagen’s Andreas Mikkelsen completed with his car sporting a front wheel knocked out of alignment. “Not too easy, we have some problem with the steering,” he said. “I don’t know what it is, but under braking we had a small hit on the left. The car is moving around a bit.”
World Rally Car newcomer Elfyn Evans had a lucky escape when he hit a rock mid-stage. The Welshman’s Ford Fiesta RS reached the stop control with a bent right-hand front wheel rim but the tyre intact.
Martin Prokop said he was surprised to complete the stage at all after wedging his Fiesta RS between two walls. “We hit with one side of the car, then the other and finally with the front,” he explained. “In the end we were completely stuck between two walls. It was a massive impact but still the wheels are straight and the engine temperature is okay…”