17 May 08
Citroen’s one-two formation on Rally d’Italia Sardegna came to an end on the final stage of the morning loop when Dani Sordo was relegated from second to fourth place.
Three consecutive stage wins for Jari-Matti Latvala, and three second-fastest times from Mikko Hirvonen were enough for both BP-Ford drivers to move ahead of the Spaniard into second and third places respectively.
“The feeling in there was not so good,” said Sordo. “I didn’t have great confidence in the car. The road was more slippery than yesterday, there’s a lot of loose gravel and the car is moving about a lot - there’s not a lot of grip. Latvala is going at an incredible speed.”
Running first through the morning’s stages, and facing the worst of the loose gravel, Sebastien Loeb returned to Olbia with a rally lead of 42 seconds. But the speed of the chasing Ford pair - especially Latvala - meant his lead was less secure that it had seemed at the start of the day.
“There are no big problems,” said Loeb. “We knew if it was dry we could lose time running first on the road this morning, and yes, we have lost some, but we have to wait until later before we find out who will be on top tomorrow. For sure I have to push hard now, just like I did this morning.”
Hirvonen narrowed the gap to Loeb by 16 seconds over the morning’s 67 competitive kilometres, while Latvala made up a remarkable 27 seconds.
“It’s been good day so far - very different to yesterday,” said Hirvonen. “It seems that running first on the road is playing a bigger role that I thought yesterday. I haven’t changed a thing on the car and yet we’re much faster today. I think Jari has an ideal position as seventh car on the road; he’s absolutely flying. It’s going to be a bit fight this afternoon. It’s certainly more fun now!”
Latvala returned to service just 12 seconds adrift of Hirvonen and delighted by his pace over the morning’s stages. "I attacked at 110 per cent on the first stage but before the next test we had a think about my pace and I eased back a little," said Latvala. "After my puncture yesterday, I didn't expect to be in the top three today. I have a great road position and that made a big difference this morning. I'll try to catch Mikko this afternoon."
Gigi Galli set the fifth fastest time to hold the same position overall.