Sébastien Ogier reduced the deficit to Rally Italia Sardegna leader Jari-Matti Latvala when the Finn’s engine overheated in extreme temperatures this morning.
Ogier started the third day of action 22.4sec behind his Volkswagen team-mate. Latvala stretched that by more than six seconds in the opening test, but conceded 11.0sec when his engine temperature soared in the marathon 59.13km Monte Lerno stage.
The gap plunged to 17.7sec, but Ogier felt it could have been even lower after confusion in the cockpit of his Polo R. He understood from a message sent to the car that Latvala had retired due to his problems and eased his pace, only to find later in the stage it wasn’t the case.
Latvala believed he would have to stop. “The temperature went to 132C and we had a warning. I turned the anti-lag system off and went into road mode. We expected we would have to retire but I saw the temperature go down and it was OK. Very stressful,” he said.
Citroen’s Mads Ostberg stretched his advantage over Andreas Mikkelsen to 9.4sec in their fight for third, the duo almost a minute behind the lead. Robert Kubica is another minute back in his Fiesta RS, with Elfyn Evans completing the top six over three minutes behind Latvala.
Next up are Martin Prokop, Henning Solberg and Hayden Paddon, with WRC 2 leader Nasser Al-Attiyah rounding off the top 10.
Al-Attiyah took top spot in the support category when leader Yazeed al Rajhi rolled in Monte Lerno. That incident caused the stage to be neutralised, so the WRC 2 places have yet to be clarified.