Stage data: SS6, Castelsardo 2 (14.12 kilometres)
By WRC Team MINI Portugal co-driver Stephane Prevot: “This stage is located north to Sassari and has never been run before. It starts downhill and is slow and tricky but becomes more winding in the second half. It’s not what I consider to be a natural stage and is not my favourite of the rally but it has a nice view of the sea.”
How the action unfolded:
Evgeny Novikov has trimmed Mads Ostberg’s advantage in the battle for third place on Rally Italia Sardegna by claiming his first stage victory in the FIA World Rally Championship since the Acropolis Rally in 2009.
Novikov is now 4.8s behind Ostberg after the Russian went 2.5s quicker than his Norwegian rival, who suggested a possible driveshaft fault on his Adapta Fiesta. Meanwhile, Novikov’s team-mate Ott Tanak reported a “really big hit” nearing the stage finish in his M-Sport Fiesta.
Factory Ford pilot Petter Solberg said at the stage finish that he wasn’t entirely happy with his tyre pressures. Nevertheless has taken a few seconds out of leader Mikko Hirvonen, whose margin out front stands at 23.4s.
“All the Fords seem to be fast in this stage so I need to speed up,” said Citroen driver Hirvonen. “It’s never good when [Solberg] is taking time out of me but the next stage is more fast and flowing and it should be better for me.”
Chris Atkinson said his confidence was improving behind the wheel of his MINI John Cooper Works WRC but added that more work is needed to get closer to the pace.