Esappeka Lappi has stolen the lead of Rally Italy Sardinia back from Sébastien Ogier on an interrupted stage, overturning his 0.4-second disadvantage into a 0.4s advantage.
Lappi led the event after Thursday’s susperspecial but lost that lead on Friday’s opening gravel test as Toyota man Ogier hit the front.
But although neither driver was fastest on SS3, Lappi hit back at Ogier – outpacing him by 0.8s to move into a 0.4s lead with the 30-mile Monte Lerno stage up next.
Before the weekend got underway, drivers had likened the conditions of this year’s Sardinia to Safari Rally Kenya, which is up next on the World Rally Championship schedule.
Terranova was clearly one of those stages they were meaning, as towards the end there were several deep water-filled holes that kicked and threw the cars around.
However it wasn’t the conditions, rather spectators in an unsafe location, that caused a brief interruption to the test after Lappi had completed.
But despite sitting on the start-line with the car going cold, Dani Sordo immediately set the fastest time – beating team-mate Thierry Neuville by 0.3s.
Next car on the stage, Takamoto Katsuta, then went even faster to consolidate his grip on third place – lying an impressive 2.8s off the lead with a stage win.
Pierre-Louis Loubet lost a little ground and slipped to fifth behind Neuville, 0.2s behind the Hyundai.
Sordo’s sixth, 1.3s ahead of Ott Tänak who moved past Kalle Rovanperä on SS8.
The two title rivals are 0.9s apart but still within 10s of the rally lead.
Elfyn Evans is ninth, 13.6s off the lead as he again set the slowest Rally1 time.