Stage data: SS9, Coiluna-Loelle 1 (29.35 kilometres)
By WRC Team MINI Portugal co-driver Stephane Prevot: “This stage is in the north of the island and is the same as 2011. A really difficult stage with a soft surface. It’s crazy fast in some sections. There are also twisty sections where it’s slow with big trees. There are also some big jumps and off-camber corners.”
How the action unfolded:
Mads Ostberg’s bid to fight back to fourth place on Rally Italia Sardegna is on track after he set the pace through Saturday’s first test. Despite struggling for grip running on hard compound tyres, Ostberg was 14.1s faster than event leader Mikko Hirvonen and moves into sixth overall
Ostberg, who was delayed on Friday afternoon with a broken rear differential on his Adapta Fiesta, started day three in seventh place and more than one minute adrift of his target position of fourth, which is currently occupied by Volkswagen Motorsport’s Sebastien Ogier in a Super 2000-specification Skoda Fabia.
Meanwhile, Hirvonen, who has extended his lead to 1m17.2s over Evgeny Novikov, said he was extremely cautious, adding that he “hated” driving to avoid rocks on the road.
After clocking the third fastest time 5.4s down on Ostberg, Ott Tanak suggested a possible electronic issue at the stage finish. The M-Sport Fiesta driver holds third overall behind team-mate Novikov.
Several drivers restarted under Rally 2 rules following their exists on Friday with factory Ford pair Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg both back in action. However, neither was going flat out in order to secure manufacturers’ championship points for the Blue Oval, although Latvala was second fastest, 2.3s down on Ostberg.
Thierry Neuville, who has also restarted under Rally 2, reported a lot of movement in his Citroen on soft-compound tyres, which he said had overheated at the stage finish. He also said he was experiencing some pain from the second-degree burns he suffered to his hands pushing his car back onto four wheels when he rolled on Friday.
Luca Pedersoli admitted he’s finding it hard running second on the road on a rare outing on gravel and his first start in a Citroen DS3 WRC. Meanwhile, Martin Prokop lost time when he got stuck momentarily after spinning.
Paulo Nobre is back in action after retiring on the road section heading to final service last night with an overheating engine. The Brazilian MINI driver, who is running first on the road on day three, started the day in 22nd overall as a result of the 10-minute time penalty he incurred.