Top 15 classification from Rally Italia Sardegna after SS9

Sebastien Ogier has charged into a useful lead at the end of Friday’s action at Rally Italia Sardegna as previous leader Andreas Mikkelsen was forced to retire with a gearbox issue.

After the morning loop Hyundai’s Mikkelsen headed up the classification but a storming performance by Ogier on SS6 saw the M-Sport Ford driver win the stage and bolt into an overall lead. One stage later Mikkelsen’s rally was wrecked by a gearbox problem which forced him to retire from the event.

World Rally Championship leader Neuville has become Ogier’s closest challenger but ends the day 18.9 seconds off the M-Sport Ford driver.

In a heavy rate of attrition both M-Sport’s Teemu Suninen and Toyota’s Ott Tanak retired on SS9, with the Finn crashing out while the Estonian suffering extensive cooling damage after a jump, which saw the rest of the order promoted up two places in the classification.

Toyota’s Jari-Matti Latvala has moved up to the final podium spot, over 18 seconds behind Neuville, with teammate Esapekka Lappi in fourth just 4.4 seconds back.

Lead Citroen driver Mads Ostberg now sits fifth narrowly ahead of Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon by 3.2s with Craig Breen in seventh.

Stephane Lefebvre has taken over the lead of the WRC2 class for Citroen and holds a 14-second advantage on Skoda’s Jan Kopecky while Hyundai driver Nicolas Ciamin rounds out the top 10 in the overall classification.

Earlier in the day Elfyn Evans suffered a disaster start to his Rally Italia Sardegna when he sustained a broken steering arm which needed replacing, costing the M-Sport Ford driver 13 minutes on his rivals. the longest-serving motorsport website in the world