Latvala handed big lead by tactics

Jari-Matti Latvala will lead the Rally Sardinia by nearly 40 seconds going into day two after his closest pursuers decided to slow down for tactical reasons on today's final stage

Latvala handed big lead by tactics

With the dusty roads proving a major headache for the drivers running first on the road, Latvala was able to benefit from his seventh place in the starting order to open up a 17.2s lead through the first five stages of the event.

But in SS6, both Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen backed off to try and ensure the best possible road position for Saturday's stages, whereas Latvala decided to stay at full pace and stretched his advantage to 39.8s over his Ford team-mate Hirvonen and 42.8s over Citroen driver Loeb.

Despite his big lead, Latvala was concerned that his flat-out tactic might not pay off tomorrow.

"It is a little bit of a bad move actually," he said. "But if you want to win you have to be able to drive first on the road, so we will see. It's not an easy situation. Tomorrow will be a very hard day for me. It hasn't been cleaning as much today as we expected. I'll try to keep a clear head and stay cool."

Hirvonen was frustrated to find himself ahead of Loeb in second place, having been caught out by how much his rival - who preferred not to comment on his tactics - had slowed.

"I f****d it up," said Hirvonen. "This is completely a mistake. You can't do it much more wrong than I did just now. This is really, really bad. I didn't slow down enough. I didn't believe that Loeb would slow down so much. Completely my mistake."

The tactical driving ahead has allowed Petter Solberg to close right in on Hirvonen and Loeb, the former champion ending the day just 7s from second place in his outdated Citroen Xsara - and with a slightly better leg two road position than those ahead.

Despite spinning on both runs through Crastazza, Citroen Junior's Russian teenager Evgeny Novikov ended the day in a superb fifth place. The team would have had two cars in the top six had Sebastien Ogier not stopped on SS5 with a broken damper.

Henning Solberg has moved up to sixth for Stobart Ford, narrowly ahead of Adapta Subaru's Mads Ostberg, with Dani Sordo back in eighth in the second works Citroen having been given his second time penalty of the day for leaving service late following suspension repairs.

Leading positions after day one:

Pos Driver Car Time 1. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford 1h24m14.5s 2. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 39.8s 3. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 42.8s 4. Petter Solberg Citroen + 46.4s 5. Evgeny Novikov Citroen + 1m04.7s 6. Henning Solberg Ford + 1m08.2s 7. Mads Ostberg Subaru + 1m16.6s 8. Dani Sordo Citroen + 1m37.3s 9. Matthew Wilson Ford + 2m33.8s 10. Khalid Al Qassimi Ford + 2m59.9s 
shares
comments
Latvala takes early Sardinia lead
Previous article

Latvala takes early Sardinia lead

Next article

Hirvonen rues 'massive error'

Hirvonen rues 'massive error'
Load comments
How Monte masters stole the show as WRC's hybrid era blasted off Plus

How Monte masters stole the show as WRC's hybrid era blasted off

The new Rally1 hybrid cars made their competition debuts in Monte Carlo, but it was two semi-retired drivers who took centre stage in a thrilling battle between two of the World Rally Championship's most successful names. Here's how Sebastien Loeb completed a remarkable return on his M-Sport debut by beating reigning champion Sebastien Ogier

WRC
Jan 24, 2022
The WRC heirs scrapping to assume Ogier's throne in 2022 Plus

The WRC heirs scrapping to assume Ogier's throne in 2022

Eight-time World Rally Championship king Sebastien Ogier has abdicated (well, gone part-time) in 2022, meaning for just the second time in the past decade we will have a different champion this year. Autosport picks out the drivers gunning to take his place and take over the mantle as the WRC's new ruler

WRC
Jan 20, 2022
The 'Cumbrian Maranello' where Ford's WRC giants are born Plus

The 'Cumbrian Maranello' where Ford's WRC giants are born

M-Sport is changing the game as a World Rally Championship powerhouse, inspired by Ferrari's legendary Formula 1 base. Autosport was afforded a behind-the-scenes look at its new headquarters, the result of a vision that has taken three decades to be realised, where its new Rally1 Puma took shape

WRC
Jan 19, 2022
The WRC star that's earned the right to lead M-Sport's revival Plus

The WRC star that's earned the right to lead M-Sport's revival

Part-time opportunities with Citroen and Hyundai have offered brief glimpses of what Craig Breen can do in a World Rally Championship car. Now signed up by M-Sport to lead it into the WRC's new hybrid era, Breen has been given the chance he's pursued for so long and is determined to make the most of it

WRC
Jan 18, 2022
Why the WRC's 'modern Group B' era was rallying at its bonkers best Plus

Why the WRC's 'modern Group B' era was rallying at its bonkers best

The World Rally Championship has brought down the curtain on the aggressive, aero-laden generation of cars first introduced in 2017 that have been likened to the 1980s Group B icons. As the championship prepares to begin a new era of Rally1 hybrid cars, its stars explain just why the outgoing machines were so special

WRC
Dec 24, 2021
Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2021 Plus

Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2021

On the eve of a new hybrid era for the World Rally Championship, the 2021 season was a blockbuster fought out between Toyota's two top dogs, with a familiar figure eventually emerging on top after a final showdown at Monza. Autosport picks out the 10 best performers from the top class and its supporting cast

WRC
Dec 21, 2021
Why Ogier's WRC swansong was a season to savour Plus

Why Ogier's WRC swansong was a season to savour

He’s shuffling into semi-rally-retirement, but Toyota star Sebastien Ogier was at the peak of his powers in the final season for the high downforce era-World Rally Championship cars. Despite Toyota's domination, there was still much to enjoy as the old master emerged atop a fierce title fight against team-mate Elfyn Evans

WRC
Dec 19, 2021
How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers Plus

How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers

After winning his eighth WRC title, Sebastien Ogier has drawn the curtain on his full-time rallying career. To understand Ogier's legacy, many of his former rivals, team-mates and colleagues have shared their thoughts on a vastly successful career

WRC
Nov 26, 2021