Fabio Andolfi held the lead of an exciting three-way fight for WRC 2 victory at Corsica Linea - Tour de Corse after a Saturday of high drama and attrition.
The 25-year-old Italian began the leg in fourth place, but recorded a string of top-four times and a stage win in his Škoda Fabia to end with a lead of 21.6sec over Nikolay Gryazin's similar car. VW Polo driver Ole Christian Veiby is 12.5sec further back in third.
The day was notable for the number of big-name retirements in WRC 2 and WRC 2 Pro.
Yoann Bonato, who had been second in WRC 2, was first to go. He stopped in SS8 and retired when his Citroën would not restart.
SS9 turned out to be a giant killer. Overnight leader Éric Camilli dropped to second after he stopped to change a puncture, while the man who had been second, Nicolas Ciamin, retired with broken steering.
Andolfi inherited a 31.7sec lead, but by SS11 he was under pressure from a recovering Camilli, who hoped to regain top spot by the end of the leg.
However Camilli's rally came to a shocking end in SS12 when his Polo caught fire mid-stage and was completely destroyed. Camilli and co-driver Francois-Xavier Buresi were unharmed.
VW Polo driver Kajetan Kajetanowicz was fourth and more than two minutes behind the lead trio after a puncture in SS10 and broken power steering in SS11.
Takamoto Katsuta (Ford Fiesta) held fifth, 34sec further back, with Rhys Yates (Škoda) rounding out the top six.
WRC 2 Pro
The WRC 2 Pro category was rocked by a double retirement that took both entries out of the contest.
Overnight leader Kale Rovanperä crashed his Škoda near the start of SS9. He slid wide in a corner and collided with a rock face. Roll cage damage means he will not restart on Sunday.
That left Fiesta driver Lukasz Pieniazek as the sole runner. The Pole had a narrow escape in SS11, which he completed with a totally destroyed front tyre. But his luck ran out in SS12 when he slid wide on a right-hand corner and collided with a wall.
Pieniazek hopes to restart on Sunday.
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