Rally Italia Sardegna leader Hayden Paddon gave little encouragement to closest challenger Sébastien Ogier through Saturday morning’s opening two speed tests. The New Zealander was right on the pace and yielded 1.4sec in the opening Ittiri Arena stage and 0.3sec in Monti di Ala’ to head the Frenchman by 7.1sec.
“I’m trying not to think about the situation but the long road sections don’t help,” said the Hyundai i20 pilot. “Once I’m in the stages then everything is normal. There was a lot of bedrock coming through in the road already.”
Ogier was second in SS12. “The second half was better than the first, when I didn’t find the rhythm. I’m happy with my tyre choice but to be sure we have to wait until the end of the loop,” said Ogier, who has a mix of hard and soft compound Michelin tyres.
Jari-Matti Latvala was fastest in Monti di Ala’, 2.8sec ahead of Volkswagen Polo R team-mate Ogier. The Finn was in confident mood at the finish, but admitted his pace notes were too fast in places and he lost time by being too sideways.
Robert Kubica reported an intercom problem which meant he only heard co-driver Maciek Szczepaniak intermittently.
Lorenzo Bertelli failed to start Monti di Ala’. The Italian retired his Ford Fiesta RS in service last night after an oil leak could not be fixed in time and restarted today under Rally 2 regulations, but the problem reappeared after the opening test.
Ogier was fastest in the short Ittiri Arena opener by 0.2sec from Thierry Neuville, with Latvala a further tenth behind. The top 10 cars were covered by 1.9sec.