Katsuta retires from Sardinia, Lappi takes lead

Damage on the previous stage through a water crossing forced the Toyota driver out as Lappi hit the front


Takamoto Katsuta has retired from Rally Italy Sardinia following damage picked up at a water crossing on Saturday morning, as Esapekka Lappi retook the lead from Sébastien Ogier.

Coming into the second full day of action Katsuta was sitting fifth and just 1.3 seconds behind Kalle Rovanperä.

But on the first stage of the morning – the 10.11-mile pass of Coiluna-Loelle – it all unraveled for the Toyota driver through a water crossing.

Carrying too much speed through the water, Katsuta damaged the front end of his GR Yaris Rally1 and immediately lost power.

The engine was therefore a cause for concern as it had taken too much water onboard.

Katsuta was eager to get away at the stage end to try and fix the issue, but ultimately it was to no avail and spelled an early end to his rally.

Meanwhile Ott Tänak suffered a similar problem on the second stage of the day – which stalled the engine of his Ford Puma Rally1 and lost him a chunk of time.

But a more concerning sight was smoke coming from the hood of his car, and he stopped for a good chunk of time after the stop control to check the issue out.

Back at the front there was yet another lead change.

After losing first place on the opening stage of the day Lappi bounced back on the 12.16-mile pass of Su Filigosu and now leads by just 0.3s, displacing erstwhile leader Ogier.

However that rally lead meant very little for the Hyundai driver at this stage of the weekend.

“That doesn’t really matter at the moment. We’re just trying to come through the stages with the speed that we have,” he explained.

“There were so many rocks – I managed to avoid most of them but a few I had to drive over. That could cause problems.”

Meanwhile Thierry Neuville gained 4.2s on the front-two of Lappi and Ogier after a strong drive on SS9 to bring the gap ahead to just 13.2s.

“It was OK. I feel more comfortable in the car and I can give it a bit more rhythm,” he said. “Lots of new pacenotes in there and it was not bad, but maybe I lost a few seconds here and there.”

Further down the order Rovanperä remained fourth, comfortably ahead of team-mate Elfyn Evans who sat 35.2s behind at the end of SS9.