Rally Italia Sardegna: Latvala still leads, despite engine scare

Jari-Matti Latvala will go into the mid-day service with a 17.7 second lead over team-mate, Sebastien Ogier – despite losing 11 seconds in Monte Lerno 1 when his engine overheated; Mads Ostberg is a distant third, 9.4 seconds up on Andreas Mikkelsen; Robert Kubica completes the top five...
Volkswagen WRC driver Jari-Matti Latvala remains on top on Rally Italia Sardegna although he had a big scare in SS11 when his engine overheated.

Latvala began the second day with a 22.4 second advantage over team-mate and championship leader Sebastien Ogier and in the first of the two tests this morning he was quickest, extending his lead to 28.7 seconds.

However the long 59.13 km Monte Lerno 1 test proved tricky and Latvala lost 11 seconds when his Polo R WRC went into road mode. Luckily though for the Finn the engine temperature then normalised and he was able to continue, finishing the loop still 17.7 seconds up Ogier.

“The engine temperature went up to 132 degrees and we had a warning,” Latvala said at the end of SS11. “We had to switch the ALS (anti-lag system) off and we turned the car to road mode. I thought we would have to stop and retire, but then the temperature dropped again so we kept going. Very, very stressful.

“But we're here and we only lost 11 seconds so it's OK.”

“It [the engine problem] should be a software or a sensor issue,” Latvala added back in service. “We lost some time, but we will try to fix it now. It could have been only 5 seconds [we lost] instead of 11 seconds but it is fine. The only thing is that we cannot relax at all but I am confident.”

Ogier meanwhile was quickest in SS11, but felt he could have gone faster: “Not quick enough but we had the info that Jari has stopped and we backed off a bit right before the jump. But then we were told he was moving and we had to push hard again,” explained the Frenchman.

“We could have been faster, but these things happen".

Behind, Citroen's Mads Ostberg continues to run in third, but he has slipped further back and is now over 50 seconds off P2 and 1 minute 10.8 seconds off Latvala. The Norwegian said his tyres overheated in SS11 and that was why he dropped over 30 seconds – although he was still 'best of the rest' and third quickest, just like in SS10.

Volkswagen Motorsport II driver Andreas Mikkelsen is next up and fourth, 9.4 seconds off Mikkelsen. The gap had been 4 seconds last night: “We tried to have a clean SS11 without mistakes,” said Mikkelsen. “You can always push more but you will take more risks which I do not want to do. We try to keep the car within limits.”

Robert Kubica rounds out the top five, a minute further back. The Pole posted the sixth best time in SS10 and was then fifth in SS11: “We had a good run through the first pass – a smooth drive without any risks. We needed to be a little careful over the opening loop so that we could amend our notes and maybe look to increase the pace at certain sections this afternoon," said the former Formula 1 pilot.

“I feel like we are driving well and I know that I can get much more out of the car in the high-speed sections. It's just a case of knowing when to push and when to be careful, but for now, it's all moving in the right direction.”

Elfyn Evans and fellow Fiesta RS runners Martin Prokop and Henning Solberg hold positions 6 through to 8, with Hayden Paddon now up to ninth on his debut with Hyundai. Paddon, however, reported possible engine issues at the end of SS11.

“This morning was OK. The first stage [SS10] was pretty good for us although we struggled a little towards the end when the grip levels reduced and we lost the rhythm. But on the whole it was good," said Evans.

“On the long one [SS11] I was perhaps a little too conscious of the fact that I have had a tendency to be quite hard on the brakes in the past. I was a bit too conservative and looking back now that might not have been the best way to go. We lost quite a lot of time to Robert [Kubica] and to be honest it didn't feel that great in the stage either.

“But, we also take comfort in the fact that we didn't have any issues with the brakes which is a step forward. This afternoon, let's see if we can maintain a better pace.”

WRC2 class leader Nasser Al-Attiyah completes the top ten. Al-Attiyah ended the opening day 4.1 seconds off Yazeed Al-Rajhi, but moved ahead in the first test this morning. Al-Rajhi then crashed out in SS11, leaving Al-Attiyah clear out front.

Of the rest, Citroen's Kris Meeke re-started today under Rally 2 after electrical problems put him out in SS5 on Friday. Meeke is now 17th overall, one spot behind Thierry Neuville. Neuville had led on Friday, but lost over 20 minutes in Loelle 1 when he had a suspension issue.

Saturday's action now concludes with a repeat run through this morning's two stages. SS12, the 19.27 km Monte Olia 2 test, is scheduled to start at 16.54 hours local time [15.54 hours UK time].

Rally Italia Sardegna: Overall standings after Stage 11 (Top 10):

1. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 2hours 40m 07.9s M
2. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 17.7s M
3. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +01m 10.8s M
4. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +01m 20.2s M
5. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 21.4s M
6. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03m 03.4s M
7. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03m 25.6s M
8. Henning Solberg Adapta Motorsport Ford Fiesta RS WRC +04m 07.0s
9. Hayden Paddon Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +08m 23.9s M
10. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar Rally Team Ford Fiesta RRC +09m 44.3s WRC2


11. Khalid Al Qassimi Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +11m 00.8s
19. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +25m 56.4s M
23. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +28m 00.8s M

WRC2 standings after Stage 11 (Top 3):

1. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar Rally Team Ford Fiesta RRC 2hr 49m 52.2s WRC2
2. Lorenzo Bertelli Ford Fiesta RRC +02m 51.2s WRC2
3. Bernardo Sousa Ford Fiesta RRC +03m 26.7s WRC2

Notable retirements:

SS3/SS4. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Engine M
SS5. Juho Hanninen Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC Rolled M
SS5. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC Electrical M*

M denotes Manufacturer entry

*denotes re-started on Saturday under Rally 2

all times unofficial

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Jari-Matti Latvala,  Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo WRC #2, Volkswagen Motorsport)
Jari-Matti Latvala,  Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo WRC #2, Volkswagen Motorsport)
Jari-Matti Latvala,  Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo WRC #2, Volkswagen Motorsport)
Jari-Matti Latvala,  Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo WRC #7, Volkswagen Motorsport)

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June 07, 2014 1:34 PM

Latvala must of been gutted to have overheating issues in Monte Lerno but he has managed to get it back to service and it was intermittent rather than Terminally progressive so that is a Relief. Now the VW Mechanics just need to identify the issue and sort it out for the afternoon run. Not an Ideal Itinerary if I am Honest, 2 stages early on then a huge Gap in the Action before the short and long stage are Re Run again Evening time, then again this is Sardinia so maybe all the fans will go to the Beech for a few hours before returning for the Action in the Evening. If Latvala can attack again and the car holds up for him then I am sure that he will once again be able to fend off Mr Ogier and take his 3rd Victory of 2014. If he wins here this weekend then I would suggest he could carry the momentum into both Poland and Finland. If he wins the next 3 he can win the Championship from there, Ogier must already know this too !

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