A REMARKABLE DRIVE FROM SÉBASTIEN OGIER THROUGH THE REPEAT OF RALLY TURKEY’S LONGEST SPEED TEST ENABLED THE FRENCHMAN TO CHARGE UP THE LEADERBOARD FROM SEVENTH TO SECOND.
The rock-strewn roads of Çetibeli combined with soaring temperatures to provide a fearsome challenge for the WRC’s stars. Ogier threw caution to the wind to win the stage and leapfrog a string of rivals – including title rival Thierry Neuville.
He was 2.7sec quicker than Ford Fiesta team-mate Teemu Suninen, but the only other driver to get within 10sec of the five-time champion was Jari-Matti Latvala.
“That’s good. Without dust the stage is much more enjoyable. It was really, really, bumpy and in this section whatever you do there are risks for sure,” said Ogier, who moved to within 12.7sec of leader Andreas Mikkelsen.
The Norwegian was more cautious in his Hyundai i20. “We were taking it so carefully in there but it’s so rough. It’s really hard to judge how bad it is, you just have to count on experience. It looks like Seb was pushing, but that’s risky,” said Mikkelsen.
Neuville and Latvala climbed to third and fourth after Mads Østberg punctured the front left tyre in his Citroën C3 and dropped to fifth. Neuville trailed Ogier by 7.7sec, but Latvala and Østberg were clustered close behind, 1.1sec and 0.6sec adrift respectively.
Hayden Paddon completed the top six with Suninen climbing to seventh.
Several others were delayed by punctures, most notably an emotional Craig Breen. The Irishman’s wretched run of first leg luck continued when he drove for 25km with a flat tyre on his C3 and plunged from second to eighth after conceding 45sec.
Elfyn Evans returned to the fray after his M-Sport Ford team replaced his Fiesta’s rear assembly, cross members and suspension during mid-leg service. The Welshman also suffered a flat and dropped 20sec.