Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala leads Rally Italia Sardegna following the morning loop, 2.2 seconds up on Mads Ostberg.
It was an action packed morning with Mikko Hirvonen, who was quickest on Thursday night in the super special, forced out on the road section between SS3 and SS4, when his car caught fire
. Hirvonen and co-driver Lehtinen both escaped unharmed, but the car was completely burnt out. It is not yet known what caused it. That incident delayed the start of SS4 by over an hour, as crews had to be re-routed.
More drama followed in SS5, with Thierry Neuville, who at this point was leading, stopping just 4 kilometres in due to a suspension problem. The Belgian eventually finished the test, but he lost over 23 minutes. Initially it looked like that would hand the lead back to his Hyundai team-mate Juho Hanninen, but the Finn also had problems and rolled his i20 WRC 5.5 kilometres from the end.
Kris Meeke was another in trouble and after reporting a power problem in SS4 – when a battery warning light came on - he stopped in SS5, again near the finish.
All that meant, Latvala suddenly found himself promoted from P6 after SS4 into the lead. The Finn, who had been joint fifth fastest in the short super special on Thursday, struggled with brake problems initially today and was only tenth in SS2. However he was back on it in SS3, setting the fifth best time, and he then went third in SS4 and quickest in SS5.
Behind, Ostberg heads the chasing pack in his Citroen DS3 WRC, despite reporting a 'massive impact' on a straight in Loelle 1. The Norwegian, however, was still third quickest. Prior to that, he had set the pace in SS4 - although he was only tenth in SS3 and seventh in SS2.
Martin Prokop is an impressive third in his privately entered Jipocar Czech National Team-run Fiesta RS WRC, 7.9 seconds off P2 and 1.7 seconds up on Volkswagen Motorsport II pilot Andreas Mikkelsen in fourth.
Former F1 pilot Robert Kubica holds fifth, and while he had a misfire in SS4, he still set some good times and was third in SS3, sixth in SS4 and second in SS5.
Championship leader Sebastien Ogier rounds out the top-six having lost out running first on the road. Speaking after SS3 he said it was 'impossible' to go any quicker. He lost over 12 seconds in SS2 and a further 9 in SS3. The Frenchman did seem to go a bit better in SS4 and SS5, although he still lost another 20 or so seconds. He lies 16.6 seconds off his team-mate and main championship rival.
Elfyn Evans ended the loop in seventh, with Henning Solberg eighth and WRC2 runners, Karl Kruuda and Nasser Al-Attiyah ninth and tenth respeectively and split by 26.2 seconds.
The action now continues this afternoon with a repeat run through this morning's four tests. Due to the delay after Hirvonen's fire, SS6 will not start until around 17.14 hours local time [16.14 hours UK time].
Rally Italia Sardegna: Overall standings after Stage 5 (Top 10):
1. Jari-Matti Latvala
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 56m 24.4s
2. Mads Ostberg
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +00m 02.2s
3. Martin Prokop
Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 10.1s
4. Andreas Mikkelsen
Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +00m 11.8s
5. Robert Kubica
RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 12.3s
6. Sebastien Ogier
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 16.6s
7. Elfyn Evans
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 19.9s
8. Henning Solberg
Adapta Motorsport Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 27.9s
9. Karl Kruuda
Peugeot 208 T16 +01m 47.2s
10. Nasser Al-Attiyah
Qatar Rally Team Ford Fiesta RRC +02m 13.4s
11. Yazeed Al-Rajhi
Ford Fiesta RRC +02m 16.1s
12. Khalid Al Qassimi
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +02m 20.0s
13. Bernardo Sousa
Ford Fiesta RRC +002m 48.6s
14. Hayden Paddon
Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +02m 57.6s
15. Quentin Gilbert
Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta R5 +03m 10.1s
WRC2 standings after Stage 5 (Top 3):
1. Karl Kruuda
Peugeot 208 T16 58m 11.6s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah
Qatar Rally Team Ford Fiesta RRC +00m 26.2s
3. Yazeed Al-Rajhi
Ford Fiesta RRC +00m 28.9s
SS3/SS4. Mikko Hirvonen
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Engine
SS5. Juho Hanninen
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC Rolled
SS5. Kris Meeke
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC Unknown
M denotes Manufacturer entry
all times unofficial