Kalle Rovanperä extended a slender overnight lead in WRC 2 Pro at Rally Italia Sardegna to almost half a minute during Saturday’s tough second leg.
The Finn, driving a Skoda Fabia R5, was only 0.6sec clear of team-mate Jan Kopecký following yesterday’s topsy-turvy leg. The teenager stamped his authority on the WRC’s main support category to overnight with a 26.1sec lead.
“It was a good day. We got a lot of new experiences and the second loop wasn’t as bad as we were expecting. It was enjoyable to drive today,” said Rovanperä, as he returned to the Alghero service park following a hot and dusty day on the Mediterranean island.
Mads Østberg was almost 10 minutes back in third after yesterday’s suspension problems. However, the Norwegian showed the pace of his Citroen C3 with a clean sweep of fastest times through the six stages.
Gus Greensmith restarted after crashing yesterday but the Briton’s return was short-lived as he stopped in the second test with suspension failure.
Takamoto Katsuta (below) capitalised on final stage heartbreak for Pierre-Louis Loubet to lead WRC 2 by 18.6sec in a Ford Fiesta.
Loubet had led the category since early yesterday morning, managing a lead of just over a minute throughout today in his Fabia. But misfortune struck the Frenchman when he punctured and dropped behind the young Japanese driver into second.
Kajetan Kajetanowicz was almost 30sec back in third, the Pole on course for an excellent finish on his debut drive in a Fabia. He overhauled Simone Tempestini, who ended another 38.5sec back, with Marquito Bulacia in fifth.
Nil Solans was sixth, despite losing time in tonight’s final two stages.
Nikolay Gryazin retired from second when he hit a rock on the opening stage and ripped the right front wheel from his Fabia.