Protasov powers
into Italy WRC 2 lead

Yurii Protasov charged up the order from fourth to demote long-time leader Paolo Andreucci and head WRC 2 at Rally Italia Sardegna on Saturday.

The Ukraine driver trailed Andreucci by more than two minutes starting today’s marathon nine stage, 16-hour leg. But after 212.83km of rough road action, he held a 7.0sec advantage in his Ford Fiesta RRC.

Protasov avoided the problems that befell his rival. Andreucci hit a rock and later stopped to close the tailgate of his Peugeot 208 T16 as it flapped open. However, the Italian slashed the deficit by 20sec in the last stage to leave an intriguing final day.

Jan Kopecky was third in a Skoda Fabia R5, 1min 51.4sec further back, with Yazeed Al Rajhi fourth in another Fiesta RRC. The Saudi Arabian lost time after being trapped in the dust kicked up by another car and also stopped to change a puncture.

Nicolas Fuchs climbed to fifth in a Fiesta R5 but German Armin Kremer had a more disappointing day in his Fabia R5. Lying second overnight, rear suspension problems and brake issues relegated him down the order to sixth.

Nasser Al-Attiyah, second in the championship, won five stages in his Fiesta RRC to recover from yesterday’s accident. Facing a deficit of eight minutes to reach his new target of fifth, the Qatari reduced that to just a minute tonight in eighth.

Stéphane Lefebvre retired Citroën’s DS3 RRC for a second day with electrical problems while Estonia’s Karl Kruuda went out with an overheating engine this afternoon in his DS 3 R5.

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