Friday | 10 Jun 2016

SS3: Fighting Ogier leads in Sardinia

Sébastien Ogier led Rally Italia Sardegna after Friday morning’s opening two speed tests in which he and team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala claimed a win each.

Stage info: SS2 / SS3

SS2: Ardara - Ozieri 1, 7.50km
Friday’s opener is a narrow but fast stage, most of which was driven in the opposite direction last year. It has a messy surface and the gravel is interspersed with patches of concrete and asphalt. There are also several hidden crests and dips which could catch out drivers as they acclimatise to the Italian tracks.

SS3: Tula 1, 15.00km
Tula is a new stage to the rally and many of the roads have been cleared especially for the event. The surface is sandy in places and some roads still have grass growing in the middle. It’s twisty in parts with some big compressions and jumps, and passes through a wind farm before finishing on a single width road through a series of hairpin bends.

Latvala was fastest by 1.3sec from Hayden Paddon through the short opener from Ardara to Ozieri to take the lead from overnight incumbent Ogier. The Frenchman fought back to win the longer Tula and regain top spot in his Volkswagen Polo R by six-tenths of a second.

Road opener Ogier gambled by choosing soft compound Michelin rubber in a bid to obtain more grip on the slippery dry gravel roads. It worked for him in Tula, but he was concerned over the impact the heat and hard-packed roads were having on the rubber.

“It’s tough, on the limit and maybe a little bit over, but with the conditions here as they are I had to try it. The first stage was more slippery than I expected, but no big surprises,” he said.

Tyre choice was the big talking point, several drivers opting for hard compound rubber for the front and soft on the rear as they searched for good grip. Latvala was one of those, but the Finn struggled with the balance of his Polo R.

“It’s difficult to say who is right but I struggled with understeer and oversteer. The balance wasn’t ideal but we made the choice for the whole loop and I think we have the right plan,” he explained.

Thierry Neuville was third in SS3 and third overall in his Hyundai i20, only 2.4sec behind Ogier. Andreas Mikkelsen followed Ogier’s lead on tyres and was fourth with Hayden Paddon and Mads Østberg completing the top six, who were covered by less than 10 seconds.

Ott Tänak spun his Ford Fiesta RS in SS2 while a broken propshaft cost Hyundai’s Kevin Abbring more than three minutes. Eric Camilli dropped a minute in Tula with what the Frenchman believed was a broken rear differential in his Ford Fiesta RS.

Valeriy Gorban and Yazeed Al Rajhi both rolled just 700 metres after the start of the opener and retired.

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

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