Rally Italia: update #5
All change at the head of the field on SS5
The afternoon’s stages were a re-run of the four that conspired to turn the leaderboard upside down when they were run as the morning loop.
Martin Prokop’s good run in the morning faltered on SS6 as he was overhauled by Andreas Mikkelsen and Sebastien Ogier who moved into third and fourth places respectively. The VW Motorsport drivers were able to pick up their pace on the cleaner second run through the stage and their natural speed carried them past Prokop’s Ford Fiesta RS WRC. The Czech driver wasn’t too downbeat that he’d dropped to fifth. “I’m driving at my maximum speed. I’m happy with the balance and the grip – everything is right for me,” he said.
Sebastien Ogier was much happier with his time on the afternoon’s first stage. The road was cleaner than it was in the morning and running first on the road was no longer a massive handicap. He was second fastest, 2.6s slower than rally leader Latvala.
His reaction after his first run through SS6 in the morning told a frustrated story: “That was terrible,” he said. “I’m going to lose a lot of time. I’ll do what I can but there is really no grip.” But his reaction on the same stage in the afternoon was much more positive. He said: “That was a completely different stage – there was lots more grip. It was tough but we’re making progress.”
Mads Ostberg held onto his second place, but the gap between him and Jari-Matti Latvala at the head of the field increased from 2.2s to 11.6s when he was only fourth fastest in ‘Terranova Nord 2’. At the end of the stage, he hinted that he was having to take a more cautious approach because of the need to score some valuable manufacturers’ championship points for Citroen, particularly after Kris Meeke’s demise on the previous test.