Al Rajhi heads WRC 2 after Italian drama
Yazeed Al Rajhi tops the support category after the opening day in Sardinia
The Italian, driving a Ford Fiesta RRC, heads Bernardo Sousa by 1min 24.3sec. Just 4.6sec behind is Sébastien Chardonnet, the Frenchman enjoying a fine debut in Citroen’s new DS3 R5.
Overnight leader Yazeed Al Rajhi was overhauled by Nasser Al-Attiyah in the opening stage. In his efforts to regain his advantage, the Saudi Arabian rolled his Fiesta RRC in the next test and retired.
It left Al-Attiyah with a handsome 2min 50sec lead over Bertelli at the mid-leg service. However, the Qatari rolled his Fiesta RRC at the same bend as Al Rajhi during this afternoon’s repeat pass to put Bertelli in the clear.
Bertelli’s cause was helped when stewards credited him with almost 90 seconds – the time lost yesterday when he was stopped mid-stage to allow Thierry Neuville to restart after repairing his damaged Hyundai.
“After yesterday’s problems we pushed this morning to show our pace. Then I saw Nasser stopped in the stage. It’s amazing, it’s crazy, everything can happen in rallying. It’s my first time in front and I will be nervous tomorrow,” said Bertelli.
Portugal’s Sousa spent much of the day in pain from a muscle injury in his right arm and Chardonnet reeled him in this afternoon.
Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari lies fourth, a further 1min 35.5sec behind, with championship leader Yuriy Protasov fifth. The Ukraine driver was less than 20sec behind Sousa until he stopped to change a puncture in the final test.
Karl Kruuda is a distant sixth. The Estonian led yesterday in Peugeot’s new 208 T16 car until problems intervened. Further troubles today, including overhesating brakes, delayed him again. Fellow countrymen Egon Kaur and Martin Kangur retired this morning.