Sebastien Loeb will start the final day of Rally Italia Sardegna with a 23.8 second advantage over his closest rival.

Loeb, who finished day 1 33.2 seconds ahead, more or less maintained that gap this morning in his Citroen DS3 WRC, even though he had to run first on the road and sweep away the loose gravel. Following the mid-day service, Loeb saw his advantage cut back from 30.9 seconds to 22.3 seconds in SS12, but the second best time in SS13 re-affirmed his position and after going fourth in SS14, he ended Saturday's leg 23.8 seconds up on Mikko Hirvonen.

"I think I can fight tomorrow," said Loeb. "Today was a good day, we'll see what happens. It is sometimes difficult to accept that we were losing time. The advantage we have should be enough, but tomorrow will be a difficult day."

Hirvonen meanwhile hasn't given up on trying to win and trying to overhaul Loeb - although he will have to keep an eye on Sebastien Ogier and Petter Solberg, as both are right behind. Indeed Ogier is 10.8 seconds off Hirvonen in P3, while Solberg is 4.9 seconds further back in fourth.

"I'll definitely try to catch Loeb tomorrow although it will be difficult," Hirvonen admitted. "Petter and Ogier are not far behind [either], you never know what can happen."

"Tomorrow we will fight for second place," added Ogier, who slipped to fourth in SS11, but re-took third immediately on the repeat loop this afternoon. "Everything was okay for us today, beautiful stages, we reduced the gap from Loeb. It will be tough until the end."

Mads Ostberg remains in fifth, albeit now over 1.5 minutes off P4, while Dani Sordo is sixth on his debut in the new MINI John Cooper Works WRC car.

"The day was not so bad," Sordo reflected. "I am happy with the car and happier than yesterday as I have more confidence in the car. We have learnt a lot because this is our first rally for the car, we have done a lot of kilometres and also have a lot of information, which is what we came here to do. The performance of the MINI is good and we are really close to the car in front. Tomorrow I just try to finish the rally because there are some fairly difficult stages and the power stage left."

Further back, SWRC leader Ott Tanak is seventh, followed by Juho Hanninen - his closest class rival, 48.6 seconds adrift - and then Britain's Matthew Wilson and Nasser Al-Attiyah. Dennis Kuipers and Khalid Al-Qassimi complete the top twelve.

Of the rest, Evgeny Novikov, Federico Villagra and Jari-Matti Latvala were the most notable runners to re-start today under the SupeRally and they now lie 15th, 18th and 26th respectively. Latvala was fastest in five of the days six tests, but after his early exit on day 1 it was all pretty academic. Kris Meeke also re-joined, but stopped again in SS10.

Henning Solberg was not able to re-start and neither was Peter van Merksteijn Sr. Peter van Merksteijn Jr joined them on the sidelines after SS11 due to an engine problem.

The action now concludes on Sunday with 65.58 competitive kilometres on the bill - and four separate stages. SS15, the 8.24 km-run through Gallura, begins at 06.50 hours local time [05.50 hours UK time].

Rally d'Italia Sardegna: Overall standings after Stage 14 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien LoebCitroen Total WRT DS3 WRC2hrs 57mins 05.7secs M
2. Mikko HirvonenFord Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC+00mins 23.8secs M
3. Sebastien OgierCitroen Total WRT DS3 WRC+00mins 34.6secs M
4. Petter SolbergPSWRT Citroen DS3 WRC+00mins 39.5secs M
5. Mads Ostberg M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC+01mins 44.9secs M
6. Dani SordoMini WRC Team John Cooper Works+02mins 29.0secs M
7. Ott TanakFord Fiesta S2000+05mins 19.6secs S
8. Juho HanninenRed Bull Skoda Fabia S2000+06mins 08.2secs S
9. Matthew WilsonM-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC+06mins 12.5secs A0
10. Nasser Al-AttiyahFord Fiesta S2000+10mins 16.7secs S


11. Dennis KuipersFERM Powertools Ford Fiesta RS WRC+10mins 34.9secs M
12. Khalid Al-QassimiTeam Abu Dhabi Fiesta RS WRC+10mins 42.8secs M
13. Armindo AraujoMotorsport Italia Mini John Cooper Works+10mins 44.5secs A0
15. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC+12mins 52.2secs A0
18. PG Andersson M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC+18mins 26.3secs A0
19. Federico VillagraMunchis Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC+25mins 46.7secs M
26. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC+34mins 13.4secs M

SWRC standings after Stage 14 (Top 3):

1. Ott TanakFord Fiesta S20003hrs 02mins 25.3secs S
2. Juho HanninenRed Bull Skoda Fabia S2000+00mins 48.6secs S
3. Nasser Al-AttiyahFord Fiesta S2000+04mins 57.1secs S

WRC Academy standings after Stage 14 (Top 3)#:

1. Egon KaurFord Fiesta R2 3hours 29mins 39.4secs A
2. Miguel BaldoniFord Fiesta R2 +01mins 42.1secs A
3. Fredrik AhlinFord Fiesta R2 +02mins 42.3secs A

# WRC Academy does not include Day 3 of the event.

Notable retirements:

SS2. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRCSuspension M*
SS2. Daniel OliveiraBrazil WRT Mini John Cooper WorksStopped in stage A0*
SS3. Kris MeekeMini WRC Team John Cooper WorksLost wheel M*
SS5. Federico VillagraMunchis Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRCStopped in stage M*
SS7. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRCOff the road A0*
SS7. Henning Solberg M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRCWithdrawn. M
SS8. Peter van Merksteijn Sr Van Merksteijn Citroen DS3 WRCWithdrawn M

SS9. Daniel OliveiraBrazil WRT Mini John Cooper WorksStopped in stage A0
SS10. Kris MeekeMini WRC Team John Cooper WorksStopped in stage M
SS11/12. Peter van Merksteijn Jr Van Merksteijn Citroen DS3 WRCEngine M

* denotes re-started under SupeRally.

all times unofficial



Loading Comments...