Saturday | 13 Jun 2015

SS14: Paddon edges further clear in Italy

Hayden Paddon increased his lead over Sébastien Ogier at Rally Italia Sardegna after outpacing him through the two longest and toughest special stages of the weekend.

Stage info: SS13/14

SS13: Coiluna - Loelle 1, 36.69km
A classic test, most of which is run to the same format as 2014. After passing a small lake near the start, the stage becomes fast as it winds through some valleys, with plenty of loose rocks on the road. After the big Rino’s Jump, drivers enter Buddusò motocross track before the fan-favourite Nuraghe Loelle hairpin towards the finish.

SS14: Monte Lerno 1, 42.22km
The rally’s longest stage is a mix of new roads, those used in the opposite direction to last year and about 17km of tracks run in the same formation. It is famous for Micky’s Jump at 26.20km, one of the WRC’s most iconic locations at which cars fly high as the road literally drops away beneath them.

The Hyundai i20 driver was second in both the Coiluna - Loelle and Monte Lerno tests to widen his advantage from 7.1sec to 9.9sec.

The Kiwi was surprised by his times. “We struggled a bit in the first one because it was quite damp and I think we could have got away with leaving soft tyres on the rear. In the second stage the pace notes didn’t flow and we had understeer,” he said.

Having begun this morning fifth in the start order, the retirements of Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo ahead meant Ogier was cleaning the roads of gravel. He was fourth in Coiluna, after almost stalling at a hairpin, and third in Monte Lerno.

“I knew I would lose time to Hayden because there are only two cars ahead and it’s very slippery,” said the Volkswagen Polo R pilot after SS14. “He’s driving fantastically and using his road position advantage well. I’ll have no problems with cleaning when we repeat the stages this afternoon so that will be the time to attack.”

Ott Tänak spun in SS14 but climbed to third in his Ford Fiesta RS, 1min 08.9sec off the lead after Jari-Matti Latvala encountered tyre issues in the previous stage.

“I came over a jump and landed a bit sideways and the tyre came off the rim. There was too much load on the wheel. I thought it might be something with the damper so we ran but then realised it was time to stop,” said the Finn. He lost more than two minutes and slid to fifth overall.

Citroën’s Mads Østberg was fourth after winning Coiluna but dropped time in the next test with a slow puncture on his DS 3.

Thierry Neuville went off briefly near the end of SS14 after power steering problems in his i20 in the previous test and Robert Kubica stopped to change a puncture.

Mikkelsen retired after ripping a wheel from his Polo R, Sordo failed to start SS14 after fuel pump problems in the previous test and Martin Prokop retired his Fiesta RS with low oil pressure.

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