22 June 2013
Rally Italia Sardegna: Ogier extends cushion
Sebastien Ogier completes SS12 with a 1min 15.9sec advantage over Thierry Neuville; Jari-Matti Latvala lies third, ahead of Dani Sordo and Andreas Mikkelsen; Mikko Hirvonen retires in SS10 after getting stuck in a ditch
Volkswagen ace Sebastien Ogier closed on victory on Rally Italia Sardegna this morning.
Ogier began the second and final day 46.6 seconds up on his closest rival, but pushed on, winning two of the four stages to increase his lead.
He now heads back to Olbia for the mid-day service with 1min 15.9secs in hand: "All okay, the car is perfect,” said Ogier post-SS12. “I'm doing my best and driving without problems. The second leg is very technical and difficult - it is a long and hard rally.”
Thierry Neuville meanwhile now holds second for the Qatar World Rally Team, gaining the position in SS10, when Mikko Hirvonen went off and got stuck in a ditch. The Citroen driver was not able to continue.
“I think our strategy is working quite well at the moment,” said Neuville. “Obviously when I am feeling confident with the car we can push a little bit harder, but there have been no major mistakes so far. We've had a few small moments when we were a bit late under braking, but there has been no damage to the car which is a good thing for the confidence this afternoon.
“We adjusted the brakes and springs after remote service yesterday to make the set-up a bit stiffer, and it really seems to be working well for us.”
Jari-Matti Latvala completes the provisional podium in his VW Polo R WRC, 35.5 seconds off P2, with Dani Sordo one spot back and in fourth after an error in SS11.
“I've reached third place and I'm on the podium, but honestly I'm not thinking about second,” Latvala said. “I don't want to take any risks [after the puncture in SS1 on Friday when I lost almost 2 minutes]. I'm pleased with myself.”
“The car is very stiff, I haven't got a good feeling,” Sordo added. “During the third stage [this morning] I had a spin because I drove into a hairpin too fast.”
Behind, Andreas Mikkelsen and Martin Prokop lie fifth and sixth respectively, with Michal Kosciuszko, Elfyn Evans, Mads Ostberg and Khalid Al-Qassimi in positions 7 through to 10. Ostberg re-started under the Rally 2 rules this morning, after he rolled in SS8 last night, and having struggled with a fever on Friday, reported he was somewhat better.
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