Ott Tänak claimed the lead of Rally Italia Sardegna on Saturday afternoon after Hayden Paddon shattered his car’s suspension after swiping a bank and retired.
Stage info: SS13
Coiluna - Loelle 1, 14.95km
A classic test on sandy roads. After passing a small lake near the start, it becomes fast as it winds through tree-lined valleys, with plenty of loose rocks on the road. After the big Rino’s Jump at 2.68km, drivers enter a tricky section with hidden rocks and bumps. The stage features a loop of Buddusò motocross track before the fan-favourite Nuraghe Loelle hairpin just before the finish.
Paddon, who led by 9.4sec ahead of the second pass of the Coiluna - Loelle speed test, limped to the end of the stage with flames billowing from the rear right of his Hyundai i20.
He dropped 1min 20sec, but the damage was too great to continue.
“Amateur mistake,” shouted Paddon as he crossed the finish line. “I turned in too early and clipped a bank on the inside. I think it’s a broken driveshaft or something. I’ve let everybody down,” added the emotional Kiwi.
His demise left Tänak with a 16.5sec advantage over Latvala. The Estonian opted to carry just one spare wheel in his Ford Fiesta this afternoon and the handling was improved. “I have only one spare, which is a bit of a gamble but the feeling is much better,” he said.
Tänak was fastest with Latvala 2.7sec behind in fourth. “We have improved the car a lot. But I’m a little bit here and there. I have to keep up the concentration, it’s very easy to make a mistake,” said the Toyota Yaris driver.
Craig Breen was a man transformed. The Irishman was second fastest in his Citroën C3, after struggling all morning, while Thierry Neuville was third in his i20. The Belgian was 1min 03.2sec off the lead.
Seventh-placed Sébastien Ogier complained of ‘massive understeer’ in his Fiesta, while Dani Sordo drove most of the stage with a rear left puncture after his i20 swiped a bank.