Thursday | 04 Jun 2015

Rally Rewind: Rally Italia Sardegna 2014

The World Championship heads to the beautiful island of Sardinia for round six (11-14 June) - the setting for a bruising event last year that left more than a few drivers with their heads in their hands.

Here's our rapid recap of what happened in 2014:

Thursday 5 June
Early omens looked good for M-Sport. Robert Kubica was quickest at shakedown and fellow Fiesta RS driver Mikko Hirvonen was fastest on the opening Super Special in Cagliari.

Friday 6 June
Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala emerged from a drama-filled opening day with a 22.4s lead. However, he didn’t have things his own way. Running second on the road behind team-mate Sébastien Ogier, he too had the unenviable task of sweeping the slippery gravel and sand from the road ahead. Unsurprisingly, cars further down the start order showed the quickest pace on the opening loop. The Hyundai pairing of Thierry Neuville and Juho Hanninen – running seventh and 12th respectively – traded places at the top of the leaderboard on the first three stages. But they both hit trouble on the last stage of the morning. Neuville dropped 23 minutes when he stopped to repair damaged suspension, while Hanninen rolled his i20 WRC. With both Hyundais in trouble, a stunning time on SS5 from Latvala allowed him to jump from sixth into the lead. Ogier was on a mission too. His stage times improved dramatically on the cleaner roads in the afternoon and he stormed from sixth place at midday to second. Citroën's Mads Østberg was third, with Andreas Mikkelsen fourth and Robert Kubica and Elfyn Evans fifth and sixth. Overnight leader Hirvonen retired on the road section to SS4, when he stopped to change tyres and discovered his car was on fire. It was completely destroyed. Another retirement was Citroën's Kris Meeke who stopped on SS5 with a loss of battery power.

Hirvonen's chances of victory went up in smoke on Friday

Saturday 7 June
Saturday was all about the duel between Ogier and Latvala. And while Latvala started well - going 6.3s faster on the first test - Ogier emerged as the leader after he forced his way past on the final stage. Responding to Latvala's opening push, Ogier immediately struck back. He snatched 11s on the first run through the ‘Monte Lerno’ stage alone. Heading into the final test, Latvala’s lead stood at an increasingly fragile 12.3s. Ogier’s unrelenting pressure then paid the ultimate dividend as Latvala made a mistake. He allowed his VW Polo R WRC to stray off line and slam into a rock. A wheel change cost him almost two minutes and he eventually reached the stage finish 2m 13s down on his team-mate. With Latvala hitting trouble, Østberg inherited second place, 1m 40s behind Ogier’s Polo R. The Citroën driver had been battling Mikkelsen for third for much of the day but pulled clear when Mikkelsen broke a damper in the final stage. Latvala ended the day third, 21.3s behind Østberg, with Mikkelsen 36s further back in fourth. Evans was up to fifth after he was gifted a place on the final stage when Kubica ripped the right-front wheel off his Fiesta RS.

Sunday 8 June
With a 1m 40.2s lead heading into the final day, Ogier only had to keep out of trouble on the remaining quartet of rough gravel stages to take maximum points. He did exactly that and completed the event with a 1m 23.1s advantage over second-placed Østberg. His haul of championship points was swelled by another bonus point when he finished third fastest on the Power Stage. Østberg was under pressure from having Latvala close behind, but he expertly managed the gap and took second place by 9.7s. Latvala was third while Mikkelsen ended in fourth and won the Power Stage. Evans and Prokop rounded out the top six, with Henning Solberg seventh and Rally 2 restarter Kubica eighth.

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