When everything seemed to have taken the direction of Sébastien Ogier and Vincent Landais, Rally Italia Sardegna offered another twist which, in perspective, could clamorously reopen the fight for victory.
In SS12, the 16.28 km Coiluna – Loelle 2, the 8-time Toyota Racing world champion faced a ford in too violent a way and, as happened this weekend to his teammates Takamoto Katsuta and Elfyn Evans, lost engine power.
Fortunately for him this situation lasted a few seconds, but it was enough to make him lose 7″7 from Esapekka Lappi and 4″7 from Thierry Neuville, who preceded him in the special.
Having reached the finish line, Ogier did not stop for interviews except for a few seconds, aware of having to stop immediately to understand what the situation of the engine and its cooling package was precisely because of the troubles already experienced by Katsuta and Evans previously .
Number 17 GR Yaris Rally1 denotes cosmetic damage to the grille, detached from the hooks, and to the front bumper. It remains to be seen if the radiator has not been damaged.
The Hyundai i20 N Rally1 driven by Esapekka Lappi and Thierry Neuville took advantage of the situation to get closer to Ogier. The Finn won the special 3 seconds ahead of his Belgian teammate and is now 10″5 behind Ogier in the general classification.
The Belgian has also gained ground, but his comeback is more complex as he has 20 seconds to make up for his Toyota rival.
Behind the top 3, the positions seem quite defined, with Kalle Rovanpera fourth and more than 45 seconds behind the podium. Behind him Elfyn Evans is almost 3 minutes behind, while Dani Sordo is 2 minutes behind from the Welshman.
The good fight continues in the WRC2 with Adrien Fourmaux who continues to obtain outstanding times. Again he was the fastest of the lot, extending his lead over Andreas Mikkelsen to 20″2.
It should be noted that Sami Pajari retired after the accident in SS11 in which he tore the right rear suspension of his Skoda Fabia RS Rally2 entrusted to him by the TokSport team.
In the upcoming tests, the riders could also find themselves having to deal with the rain: the weather forecast spoke of possible rainfall for the last two stages of the day, but it has already shown up in part in SS12, despite having no effect due to the little amount dropped along the way.
Rally Italia Sardegna – WRC 2023 – Classification after SS12
Pos. Pilota/navigatore Vettura Tempo/distacco Penalità 1 Ogier/Landais Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 2h30’22”7 2 Lappi/Ferm Hyundai 20 N Rally2 +10″5 3 Neuville/Wydaeghe Hyundai 20 N Rally2 +20″0 4 Rovanpera/Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +1’05″5 5 Evans/Martin Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +4’05″2 6 Sordo/Carrera Hyundai 20 N Rally2 +6’04″9 +1’20” 7 Fourmaux/Coria Ford Fiesta Rally2 + 6’16″3 8 Mikkelsen/Eriksen Skoda Fabia RS Rally2 +6’36″5 9 Kajetanowicz/Szczepaniak Skoda Fabia RS Rally2 +8’20″9 10 Lindholm/Hamalainen Skoda Fabia RS Rally2 +8’26″0