Friday | 09 Oct 2020

Solberg steals slender Friday advantage

Oliver Solberg fended off fierce competition to complete Friday’s opening leg with the lead in WRC 3 at Rally Italia Sardegna.

On unfamiliar territory, the Swede laid down the gauntlet with a blistering run through the opening Tempio Pausania blast. Despite a spin during the second run, Solberg was never-headed and led by 6.4sec in his Skoda Fabia Rally2.

“It’s our first time in Sardinia, so it’s crazy to be leading. This afternoon was not perfect with our tyre choices, but we have to be happy,” said the 19-year-old.

Solberg’s nearest challenger was Frenchman Yohan Rossel. After a steady start, the Citroën C3 R5 man flew to a trio of stage victories on the daunting northern Sardinian roads. Fellow countryman Nicolas Ciamin rounded out the top three, 17.0sec further back in another Citroën.

Jari Huttunen is second in the championship standings and will be looking to improve on his current position in Sardinia. The Finn is fourth, just 7.5sec adrift of the podium in his Hyundai i20 R5.

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Kajetan Kajetanowicz completed the top five. The Pole ended the first day 12.5sec behind Huttunen in another Skoda, but maintained a comfortable 41.5sec advantage over sixth-placed Umberto Scandola in an i20.

Championship leader Marco Bulacia was seventh. The Bolivian hit trouble with a puncture followed by brake issues on his C3 and he trails the leaders by 2min21.9sec.

Former Junior world champion Jan Solans was third on the rally’s opening stage but later retired for the day with suspension damage on his Ford Fiesta R5. Chilean star Emilio Fernández also had an early bath when he stopped in SS3.

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