Stage data: SS3, Monte Lerno 1 (29.68 kilometres)
By WRC Team MINI Portugal co-driver Stephane Prevot: “A very fast and technical stage and a tough stage to start the day. It has a big jump, Micky’s Jump, and it’s the worse stage to be running first on the road because it will sweep like hell. It’s very slippery and difficult to make up time.”
How the action unfolded:
The drama continues on Rally Italia Sardegna with Sebastien Loeb crashing out and Mikko Hirvonen shooting into the lead in the second factory Citroen.
Hirvonen started day two 1.1s behind the nine-time world champion but moved in front when Loeb went off the road after approximately five kilometres. The Finn, who was 2.8s faster than Petter Solberg through the stage, now leads the Norwegian in the overall classification by 15.6s heading to stage four, Castelsardo, which goes live at 11:34hrs local time.
“It was only the beginning of the fight so I don’t think it was any pressure from me [that Loeb went off],” said Hirvonen. “I lost a bit the rhythm when I heard and was on the brakes too much. It’s a shame but I was happy with my time.”
Solberg, meanwhile, reckoned he could have been quicker but for time lost passing Thierry Neuville’s Citroen, which was momentarily stranded when the young Belgian rolled 25.4s into the stage. Neuville hurt his right hand as he and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul got their DS3 WRC back onto its wheels. The Qatar World Rally Team driver was fourth overall starting the stage but his time delay of more than six minutes drops him out of the top 10.
Mads Ostberg has moved into third overall in his Adapta Fiesta with Jari-Matti Latvala, who was third quickest, up to fourth in his factory Fiesta.
Italy’s sole World Rally Car representative, Luca Pedersoli, lost 40s when he went off the road in his Citroen. The 41-year-old, taking part on his first gravel rally for more than a year, blamed his mistake on an incorrect pace note. Meanwhile, Martin Prokop reported a big spin in his privateer Fiesta.
Marcos Ligato has taken the lead of the Production Car World Rally Championship section after Nicolas Fuchs dropped back with a loss of brakes.