Ogier takes control of Sardinia with dominant SS4 victory

Nobody could get close to the eight-time World Rally champion's time

Sebastien Ogier

Sébastien Ogier has retaken the lead of Rally Italy Sardinia after a stunning drive on the 30-mile Monte Lerno – Sa Conchedda stage as Dani Sordo rolled his Hyundai.

SS4 was the stage everybody has been talking about pre-event given its savage length, and it certainly proved to be a challenge for the World Rally Championship’s finest.

Throughout his esteemed career Ogier has proved himself incredibly adept when the going gets tough – able to make a big difference on the longer stages.

As he commented at stage-end: “I like the long challenge, it’s always a chance to make a difference.”

And so it proved.

Although Lappi, who led by 0.4 seconds heading onto SS4, was quicker than Ogier through the opening few splits, the Hyundai driver began to leak time as the stage progressed and ended up losing 16.7 seconds to the eight-time world champion to fall 16.3s behind overall.

“No grip,” was Lappi’s assessment.

“I did my best, I was driving on the limit very often and once also over, we went a bit wide.


“Yeah… not nice. The first two were nice but this one was bad with the grip level.

“I guess it’s a bit slippy for everyone except the Toyotas.”

Lappi at least made it to the end unscathed though which was more than could be said for team-mate Sordo, who ran wide and rolled down a bank.

But incredibly Sordo managed to make it to the end of the stage, albeit not before three minutes were lost.

“There was no grip with the hard tires on the front, it was so, so difficult,” Sordo explained. “It was a big mistake to put hard tires on the front.”

There was similar drama for Takamoto Katsuta, who in a similar place suffered his own mistake.

Locking up the brakes, the Toyota headed straight into a big rock on the outside of the corner and bounced over it. Miraculously, the car survived.

“We hit a very, very big rock and luckily we survived, but obviously we lost a lot,” said Katsuta, who dropped from third to fifth.

Takamoto Katsuta

Pierre-Louis Loubet now holds third, but was frustrated to have lost some time through the watery sections where he felt his Ford Puma Rally1 was losing engine performance.

Elfyn Evans had a good stage as he set the second fastest time, 12.7s down on Ogier, to leap from ninth up to fourth overall.

“It was pretty safe to be honest,” Evans said. “We knew that was a bit of an objective coming into the week but obviously Séb’s taken quite a bit.”

Thierry Neuville is sixth, just one tenth off Katsuta, but struggled with grip like his two team-mates, suffering a wild moment where he briefly slipped off the road into a ditch.

He has 13.1s in hand over Ott Tänak who, in turn, is 6.2s clear of Kalle Rovanperä.


But Rovanperä suffered a scary moment when he came across a herd of cows in the racing line early on in the stage.

The world champion showed off his reflexes as he attempted to avoid the wildlife, but he made light contact, damaging the hood of his Toyota as he was forced to venture off-line and onto some loose stones which didn’t help his rhythm.

Suffering as first car on the road, he eventually lost 40.2s on the stage.

“It was super difficult,” Rovanperä confessed. “It was really dry so a lot of cleaning.”

Gaps between the field have now spread, as Rovanperä sits 49.5s off Ogier’s lead now.