Esapekka Lappi has crashed out of the lead of Rally Italy, handing Ott Tänak a healthy 21.5s lead and bringing the long-running lead battle from Friday to an end.
Tänak had pushed hard and was up on the splits, appearing likely to retake the lead on pace alone by a narrow margin.
But an impact against a bump in the road unsettled Esapekka Lappi’s Toyota GR Yaris, causing the right-rear to bounce off a bank and send the rear off into the other direction.
A second hit on the rear ripped the rear-left wheel off his Yaris, forcing him to park up and retire on the spot.
Then this happened 💥 pic.twitter.com/9iJTRN7iMw
— DirtFish (@DirtFishRally) June 4, 2022
“It was a lot of parts everywhere before he crashed,” pointed out Andreas Mikkelsen, the next driver through after Lappi. Indeed, the errant rear-left was a hundred meters away from the rest of the stricken car.
Both Craig Breen and Dani Sordo surpassed Pierre-Louis Loubet for third and fourth respectively, as the latter M-Sport driver debeaded his front-right tire late on the test.
Breen thrived on Tempio Pausinia, clocking the second-fastest time to build a 6.7s advantage over Sordo in the podium fight having started it with only 0.6s in hand over the Hyundai.
Loubet lost positions but didn’t lose a large chunk of time and is still in the podium fight, only 2.3s off a struggling Sordo who said he “didn’t have confidence” in the loose and slippery conditions.
Despite a debeaded tire for Loubet, fellow Puma driver Adrien Fourmaux failed to close the gap ahead of him, the gap from fifth to sixth growing to 19.6s.
Takamoto Katsuta lost ground to championship leader Kalle Rovanperä behind him in the battle of seventh, dropping 2.6s to his Toyota stablemate.
Though Rovanperä closed the gap to Katsuta to five seconds he was still off the ultimate pace. For the first time in months, his imperious all-conquering form that had led to three wins in a row was not on show.
“It feels that I cannot drive this car on this kind of road at all,” said Rovanperä. I cannot keep it on the line, if I try to keep it neat and tidy it’s not easy.”
Thierry Neuville had lost almost two minutes to a transmission fault on Friday. But he fired a warning shot to the Toyota pair ahead of him, cutting a whopping 14.7s into Rovanperä.
Reducing the deficit to seventh place to 39.4s was a good start to Saturday for Neuville – but he’d done something even more important in the opening corners of the stage.
“I had dog in the middle of the road and I had to really slow down and turn around, so I lost a couple of seconds there. But at least I saved the dog,” said Neuville.
- Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) 9m57.9s
- Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +6.7s
- Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +7.7s
- Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai) +12.8s
- Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (M-Sport Ford) +16.1s
- Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +19.3s
- Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +20.0s
- Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Hyundai) +20.4s
- Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +22.4s
- Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +25.0s
Leading positions after SS10
- Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) 1h20m40.5s
- Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +21.5s
- Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai) +28.2s
- Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (M-Sport Ford) +30.5s
- Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +50.1s
- Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +1m29.8s
- Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +1m34.8s
- Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +2m14.2s
- Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (Škoda) +2m49.5s
- Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (M-Sport Ford) +3m09.00s