Rally Italia update #13
Ostberg pulls further clear of Latvala
After a refuel, the crews entered the final three stages of the rally. The first was the 14.0km run at ‘Castelsardo’ and this was quickly followed by the slightly longer ‘Tergu-Osilo’ stage that measured 14.88km. The last stage of the rally was the ‘Cala Flumini Power Stage’ where extra championship points were awarded to the fastest three drivers.
Privateer driver Martin Prokop had to drive through the pain barrier to protect his sixth place at ‘Castelsardo’. The Czech driver was suffering with a back problem that first manifested itself on Saturday afternoon and only got worse on the final morning. But he did a fine job in the 14.0km stage, though. He was faster than Henning Solberg's identical Ford Fiesta RS WRC to extend his advantage from 45.2s to 53.7s.
“I have big pain in my back and I’m glad that the stages are shorter this morning,” he said. “I’ve had some physio but it still hurts like hell.”
Jari-Matti Latvala finally showed some signs of positivity on SS15 as he got the better of Mads Ostberg in the battle for second place. The former rally leader took advantage of Mads Ostberg’s soft tyres going off on the stage and reduced the Norwegian’s advantage by 1.4s. It wasn’t a massive step forward and the overall gap still stood at 23.1s but at least he was now heading in the right direction with two stages still to run.
There was drama in the race for WRC 2 podium honours as third-placed Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari stopped in SS15. The Puma Rally Team driver was hoping to fend off the attack from Bernardo Sousa on the final day, but his mid-stage problem put paid to his chances. Sousa was therefore promoted to third place.