WRC Rally Italy: Sordo retains Sardinia lead over Ogier

Dani Sordo has maintained his lead over Sebastien Ogier on a dramatic second day of Rally Italy, with World Rally Championship standings leader Elfyn Evans up to fourth place

WRC Rally Italy: Sordo retains Sardinia lead over Ogier

After being forced to sweep the stages on Friday, the championship-leading Toyotas of Sebastien Ogier and Evans were released from their burden in Saturday's road order and duly finished first and second on the opening stage of the day.

Ogier, third overnight, began to reel in M-Sport's Teemu Suninen whose Ford Fiesta held a fragile overnight advantage in second place. The Cumbrian squad started the day's running without the second Fiesta of Esapekka Lappi, which was unable to restart after losing all the water from its engine on Friday morning.

Further heartbreak was to follow for M-Sport as British youngster Gus Greensmith's impressive run in Sardinia ended on Saturday when a rock knocked his alternator belt off in the middle of the third stage. He was able to replace the belt on the following road section but his battery was too far gone to be revived.

Suninen then suffered an issue with the centre differential that prevented him from using the handbrake to negotiate the many Sardinian hairpins. This in turn accelerated his slide down the order and the Finn ended the first loop of stages in fifth place.

Rally leader Sordo won the second stage of the day and Ogier won the third but Thierry Neuville, Hyundai's only realistic contender for this year's drivers' title, closed in on Ogier throughout the morning. When Neuville won the fourth and final stage of the morning loop he leapt into second overall.

One name missing after Saturday's second stage was Kalle Rovanpera who, after complaining that his Toyota was loose, clipped a tree which spun him 180 degrees putting him into another tree which tore the right rear corner off his Yaris.

After a lengthy afternoon service halt, the second loop of two stages repeated those run on Friday afternoon.

Championship leader Evans, in fourth place, suggested that the surface might have been 'polished up' by rally traffic moving in and out overnight. With his British Rally Championship-winning father Gwyndaf on the gravel crew, Elfyn usually gets good information.

The Toyota runners elected to mix hard and medium tyre compounds, while the Hyundais of Sordo and Neuville went for mediums all round.

Ogier won both afternoon stages and hoisted himself back into second place ahead of Neuville. The Belgian's softer rubber was worn out and he was fortunate to escape after clouting a hay bale after running wide as he attempted to negotiate a narrow bridge.

"I tried very hard to be honest but it looks like they had a little bit more speed than us," Neuville said.

"Maybe the tyres also made the difference and I lost maybe 1.5-2 seconds on the bridge where I just was a little bit too late on the brakes but when you're pushing to the maximum it's happen."

Despite Ogier's charge, Sordo still holds a 27-second advantage at the end of the 12th stage heading in to the final day. Like Neuville, his Hyundai's tyres were ravaged by the afternoon stages.

"My tyres are completely destroyed," said the Spaniard. "I was trying to manage a little bit for the end of the stage but seven kilometres before the end I started to feel that I was understeering too much so I started to take it a little bit careful."

Ogier's presence in between Sordo and Neuville at the start of the final day could be a blessing in disguise for Hyundai team principal, Andrea Adamo.

With only Neuville in a position to challenge Evans and Ogier for the 2020 WRC drivers' title, the prospect of having to order Sordo, on a part-time schedule for the team, to hand over his well-deserved lead would not be popular.

For his part, Adamo just wants to see a maximum score for the manufacturers' championship and is less concerned about his drivers.

"I have, in top of my mind, I have just in this moment the manufacturers' standings and not the drivers' standing," Adamo said. "It will be difficult to tell Dani to go slow."

WRC Rally Italy classification after Stage 9

Pos Class Driver Team Car Gap
1 RC1 Dani Sordo, C.del Barrio Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 1h47m00.1s
2 RC1 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 31.3s
3 RC1 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 34.2s
4 RC1 Teemu Suninen, J.Lehtinen M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 51.6s
5 RC1 Elfyn Evans, S.Martin Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 53.6s
6 RC1 Gus Greensmith, E.Edmondson M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 2m05.5s
7 RC1 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 2m14.7s
8 RC1 Pierre-Louis Loubet, V.Landais Hyundai 2C Competition Hyundai 2m39.3s
9 WRC3 Jari Huttunen, M.Lukka Hyundai 5m41.4s
10 WRC3 Kajetan Kajetanowicz, M.Szczepaniak Skoda 5m49.3s
11 WRC3 Oliver Solberg, A.Johnston Skoda 6m00.9s
12 WRC2 Pontus Tidemand, P.Barth Toksport WRT Skoda 6m13.7s
13 WRC3 Umberto Scandola, G.D'Amore Hyundai 7m11.0s
14 WRC2 Eyvind Brynildsen, I.Minor Toksport WRT Skoda 7m17.2s
15 WRC2 Ole-Christian Veiby, J.Andersson Hyundai Motorsport N Hyundai 7m36.3s
16 WRC3 Marco Bulacia Wilkinson, M.Der Ohannesian Citroen 7m38.6s
17 RC1 Martin Prokop, Z.Jurka Ford 8m34.8s
18 WRC3 Sean Johnston, A.Kihurani Sainteloc Junior Team Citroen 9m55.8s
19 WRC3 Alberto Heller, M.Marti Ford 10m14.9s
20 WRC2 Mads Ostberg, T.Eriksen PH Sport Citroen 10m21.1s
21 WRC3 Alberto Battistolli, S.Scattolin Skoda 13m07.7s
22 RC2 Mauro Trentin, A.De Marco Volkswagen 14m39.7s
23 RC2 Armin Kremer, E.Kremer Volkswagen 15m25.4s
24 JWRC Tom Kristensson, J.Sjoberg Tom Kristensson Motorsport Ford 15m59.2s
25 RC2 Luca Hoelbling, F.Fiorini Hyundai 19m00.6s
26 WRC3 Luciano Cobbe, F.Turco Skoda 19m26.6s
27 RC2 Piano, M.Menchini Skoda 20m58.6s
28 RC2 Francesco Marrone, F.Fresu Peugeot 21m28.4s
29 RC2 Pablo Biolghini, S.Pudda Skoda 21m37.6s
30 JWRC Fabrizio Zaldivar, F.Mussano Ford 23m22.5s
31 WRC2 Nikolay Gryazin, K.Aleksandrov Hyundai Motorsport N Hyundai 26m46.4s
32 RC2 Giuseppe Pozzo, P.Cottu Skoda 27m24.5s
33 WRC3 Ulysses Bertholdo, G.Morales Skoda 28m04.2s
34 RC2 Fabrizio Arengi Bentivoglio, M.Bossi Skoda 28m30.0s
35 RC2 Maurizio Morato, F.Pezzoli Skoda 29m51.4s
36 RC2 Massimo Squarcialupi, G.Squarcialupi Ford 31m38.6s
37 RC1 Takamoto Katsuta, D.Barritt Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 32m17.1s
38 RC4 Sergio Biondi, G.Barbaro Ford 36m10.0s
39 JWRC Martins Sesks, R.Francis Ford 45m55.7s
40 WRC3 Jan Solans, M.Barreiro Ford 46m34.0s
41 JWRC Ruairi Bell, D.Garrod Ford 48m18.5s
42 WRC3 Emilio Fernandez, R.Garcia Skoda 49m17.3s
43 JWRC Enrico Oldrati, E.De Guio Ford 51m00.3s
44 RC4 William Toninelli, C.Tomasi Renault 51m12.7s
45 RC3 Andrea Coti Zelati, F.Musu Citroen 51m49.7s
46 RC3 Omar Lambroni, A.Taras Renault 57m03.0s
47 RC5 Gianni Bardin, L.Pascale Renault 1h12m14.4s
48 JWRC Marco Pollara, M.Messina Ford 1h21m47.4s
49 RC4 Paulo Soria, M.Recalt Ford 1h22m01.0s
50 RC3 Rachele Somaschini, G.Zanchetta Citroen 1h44m29.1s

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