“Rally leader at Rally Italia Sardegna was not something I expected to hear this weekend,” Ogier admitted. “The only alarm was two big impacts on the last stage with big rocks in the middle of the road that I can’t avoid, which lifted the front of the car pretty bad.
“The two rocks I hit were pulled out probably by the car before and there was nothing I could do. Luckily I could brake and accelerate again to lift the car to try to minimise the impact, but still it was a pretty big impact, especially the second one.
A rejuvenated Elfyn Evans held third in another Yaris. After a lacklustre opening day, the Welshman found more pace and top three times in all four stages, including a stage win, enabled him to close to within 14.6sec of Sordo.
Thierry Neuville could not match Evans’ pace and the gap between the pair grew to 8.5sec. The Belgian continued to lack the confidence to push in his i20, although second fastest time in the last stage provided a boost.
Takamoto Katsuta was almost 1min 15sec adrift in sixth after an action-packed morning. He hit a huge rock on the line which almost threw his Yaris off the road and damaged the underneath of the car. He also suffered a double puncture in the final test.
The top six was completed by WRC2 leader Mads Østberg, who managed to fix a damaged brake pipe in his Citroën C3 R5. He was almost half a minute clear of Jari Huttunen’s i20 R5 with WRC3 leader Yohan Rossel next up in eighth.
The leaderboard was completed by Pepe López and Jan Solans, Lopez overhauling his fellow Spaniard in the final stage.
Gus Greensmith retired for a second day when his Fiesta stopped in the final stage with a mechanical problem.