SS7: Tänak and Latvala share spoils
Paddon continues to top Italy leaderboard
SS8: Grighine Sud 2, 22.45km
A shorter version of this morning’s opening test, with the start moved forward by almost 4km. The roads vary throughout, offering a rocky, bumpy, rollercoaster of a ride in places, interspersed with smooth flowing sections as the route passes a wind farm.
SS9: Grighine Nord 2, 18.34km
The early section includes bumpy, suspension-smashing bedrock as crews head into a wooded section featuring heavily rutted tracks. It then climbs steeply up a mountain, tackling a tough series of tight bends and fast sections.
The Finn was tied on time with Volkswagen team-mate Sébastien Ogier at the midpoint, but dropped 21.9sec in the second half as he limped through with a damaged rear left tyre on his Volkswagen Polo R.
“It was my mistake,” he admitted. “I came too fast into a chicane and hit it. The impact pushed the car into a bank on the exit and it knocked the tyre off the rim.”
Latvala won the previous Grighine Sud stage but the time loss dropped him 18.2sec behind Ogier into third. He is 38.2sec adrift of Hyundai i20 driver Paddon.
The New Zealander was third through SS8 and second in SS9 and heads into today’s final stage 20.0sec ahead of Ogier.
“This one was a lot more slippery than the previous stage,” said Paddon at the finish of SS9. “I was sliding around and lost rhythm in the last section.”
Ogier won SS9 but confirmed he was carrying a clutch problem on his Polo R. “It’s a small problem and at the moment it’s not costing me time,” said the Frenchman.
Dani Sordo retained fourth despite an anti-roll bar issue but Hyundai team-mate Thierry Neuville was in trouble. The Belgian dropped 50sec limping through SS9 with no power. “I can drive slowly, but I’m not sure I can finish the day,” he said.
He remained sixth but Mads Østberg, who moved ahead of Martin Prokop, was just 3.0sec behind. Prokop was lucky to emerge from SS9, having hit a compression which threw his Ford Fiesta RS off the road and into a bush.