Saturday mid-leg: Ogier fights back
Sébastien Ogier closes on Jari-Matti Latvala in battle for the lead
Those that survived the morning’s 59.13km ‘Monte Lerno 1’ stage had to tackle it again in the afternoon. The test featured the legendary ‘Micky’s Jump’ that never fails to disappoint as the cars are launched high into the Sardinian sky. This test followed the shorter ‘Monte Olia 2’ stage.
As soon as Jari-Matti Latvala returned to the midday service in Alghero at the end of SS11, the VW Motorsport engineers jumped on his Polo R WRC in a bid to identify the reason why its engine appeared to overheat on the previous 59km stage at ‘Monte Lerno 1’. After lengthy investigations, they concluded that there was no problem to be found, just a faulty engine sensor to be replaced. Latvala was a happy man and got back on his way.
When the competitive action resumed on SS12, the gap at the top of the leaderboard shrunk for the second stage in succession as the hard-charging Sebastien Ogier took another 5.4s out of Jari-Matti Latvala’s advantage. The gap for the lead was reduced to 12.3s heading into the second run through the 59.3km ‘Monte Lerno 2’ test. Ogier admitted he had been pushing hard, while Latvala attributed his time loss to an engine stall. “I don’t know why it happened,” he said.
After working so hard to pull his Ford Focus RS WRC up in to fifth place on the previous 11 stages, Robert Kubica’s rally came to a grinding halt on SS12. He stopped just over 1km from the end of the stage after ripping the right-front wheel off his car. Britain’s Elfyn Evans gratefully took over fifth place in his M-Sport World Rally Team Fiesta.