Sat 03 Jun 2023

Charging Ogier overpowers Lappi on Saturday morning

Sébastien Ogier charged clear of a struggling Esapekka Lappi, reclaiming the Rally Italia Sardegna lead in Saturday’s brutal morning loop.

Ending Friday’s opening leg separated by a single tenth of a second, Lappi and Ogier’s fierce battle continued as the action resumed this morning on rock-strewn gravel roads in the northern part of the Mediterranean island.

Ogier drew first blood, edging his Finnish rival through Coiluna - Loelle to move in front. However, Lappi swiftly counterattacked in the next one, narrowly claiming back the position with a spirited drive in Su Filigosu.

But Lappi’s triumph was short-lived as the pair entered the iconic Erula - Tulia, the longest stage of the day. While the Hyundai man lacked confidence in the slippery conditions, coupled with a soft front left tyre, Ogier reigned supreme.

Beating Lappi by an impressive 13.0sec in the stage, the Toyota Gazoo Racing driver then stretched his rally lead to 18.2sec before service as Lappi struggled through Tempio Pausania with worn-out tyres. 

Thierry Neuville started the day strongly, winning the opening pair of stages to edge closer to the top. His efforts were undone by a puzzlingly off-pace run through Erula - Tula, however, and the Belgian trailed i20 N colleague Lappi by 6.5sec in third overall.

Championship leader Kalle Rovanperä is not particularly fond of Sardinia’s rough terrain and the GR Yaris youngster was in no mood for risk-taking on Saturday morning. He remained fourth overall, 38.8sec back from Neuville, and can now afford to relax with fifth-placed team-mate Elfyn Evans 2min 53.7sec in arrears.

Evans, like several of his peers, sustained damage in a water splash and was relieved to reach the respite of service. He nursed a leaking radiator through the final two speed tests, dropping almost three minutes in the process. Takamoto Katsuta and Ott Tänak, on the other hand, weren’t so lucky and both retired with similar troubles.

Dani Sordo, fighting back from a Friday morning roll, climbed to sixth overall ahead of Adrien Fourmaux, who leads WRC2 in a Ford Fiesta Rally2.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM