After more than 110km of fierce action at Rally Italia Sardegna on Saturday morning, leader Hayden Paddon extended his overnight advantage on Sébastien Ogier – by 0.5sec! Ogier ended the loop by reclaiming 0.6sec when he was second in the Ozieri – Ardara stage, despite a small error in his Volkswagen Polo R near the beginning.
“I lost maybe a second because I was much too far off the line on a left hand bend. My notes were not really good, but the morning was good,” said Ogier, who swept gravel from the roads after the retirement of two cars ahead in the start order.
Paddon was third fastest and reflected on an excellent morning in his Hyundai i20.
“It was really, really good. We had a small advantage with road position but Ogier has a pretty big advantage with knowledge. It’s going to be rough this afternoon and that will be hard on the car. Finishing is our priority and we want to look after the car, so we’ll raise the ride height a little,” he said.
Ott Tänak was almost a minute behind Ogier in third in his Ford Fiesta RS, with Citroën’s Mads Østberg fourth in his DS 3, a further 1min 21.7sec adrift.
Jari-Matti Latvala won the stage to close the gap on Østberg to 7.8sec and the Finn has his sights set on climbing back up the order after knocking a tyre off the rim of his Polo R earlier in the morning.
Thierry Neuville was sixth, the Belgian falling back after incurring a 40sec penalty as he worked to repair a power steering problem in his i20.
Elfyn Evans was seventh, the Welshman still struggling to get to grips with the rally, and the leaderboard was completed by the WRC 2 trio of Paolo Andreucci, Yurii Protasov and Yazeed Al Rajhi.