Saturday | 11 Jun 2016

SS11: Abbring bags maiden stage win

Kevin Abbring claimed his first WRC stage victory when he topped the timesheets in Saturday morning’s opening Monte di Ala’ speed test at Rally Italia Sardegna.

Stage info: SS10/11

SS10: Monti di Ala’ 1, 22.20km
Saturday’s opener is the only stage that is unchanged from last year. It begins with an 8km section that was introduced for the first time in 2015 before continuing on roads that have been driven in both directions previously. Much of the test is within a wind farm and twists across a hillside via fast corners. It reverts to man-made roads before a fast section to the finish. Drivers must keep an eye out for wild animals which roam throughout.

SS11: Coiluna - Loelle 1, 22.39km
A classic test, most of which is run to the same format as 2015. After passing a small lake near the start, it becomes fast as it winds through the valleys, with plenty of loose rocks on the road. After the big Rino’s Jump, drivers enter a tricky forested section with hidden rocks and bumps. It crosses Buddusò motocross track before the fan-favourite Nuraghe Loelle hairpin leads to a more open final 10km.

Driving Hyundai’s 2015-specification i20, Abbring took advantage of the good grip generated by his low start position to finish 2.3sec clear of Eric Camilli, and deny the Frenchman his maiden success.

“It feels really good, It was difficult after yesterday morning’s loop, but we changed something on the car which improved the balance and it feels really good now. I have confidence in the car and it’s working well,” said Abbring.

The Dutchman couldn’t repeat the feat in the following test from Coiluna to Loelle which fell to Ott Tänak. The Estonian was 1.3sec quicker in his Ford Fiesta RS than Jari-Matti Latvala, who edged slightly closer to Thierry Neuville in their battle for the lead.

Neville’s third fastest time in Monti di Ala’ enabled the Belgian to widen his advantage over Latvala to 11.7sec. However, Latvala reclaimed 2.0sec in the next test to leave the gap at 9.7sec with one stage remaining of the morning.

Neuville made a slight error in the opener when he slid wide at a junction after dust coming into the car affected his concentration. He was less happy after the next test, the rear of the i20 moving in the fast sections.

“It wasn’t so nice. I didn’t want to take any risks because it was narrow with a lot of trees and I was worried we could hit them,” explained Neuville, whose team-mate Dani Sordo reported similar issues.

Road opener Sébastien Ogier struggled in the loose gravel and Volkswagen Polo R team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen narrowed the gap between them to 8.5sec in their fight for third.

Head to WRC+ to see the latest onboard and video reports from Rally Italia Sardegna

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