Sébastien Ogier has stolen second position from Dani Sordo on the first stage of Friday afternoon on Rally Italy, but Ott Tänak maintains his 100% stage-winning record at the head of the field.
Sordo had headed Ogier by 1.8 seconds prior to SS5 but dropped 5.3s to his rival on the stage, losing his position and trailing by 3.5s.
“I was taking care a little bit of the tires as it’s so hot and I don’t know what it looks like, so the time is not so bad,” Sordo reasoned.
Ogier was impressive though, going second quickest for the second time this weekend despite his position as the first car on the road.
He did drop 4.9s to stage winner Tänak, whose lead has now surpassed 20s at 23.6s.
“I felt really slow but OK I was clean through,” said Tänak. “For next run I need to adjust a bit. For sure the feeling is better than last year but I’m not happy with the run.”
Thierry Neuville is settling into a lonely fourth place, setting the third-fastest time – 0.8s slower than Ogier on stage.
“I have too many surprises with the bottoming and crashing through, I can’t just rely on what I see,” Neuville said.
He is now 40.8s shy of the lead and 13.7s off team-mate Sordo who completes the podium.
Elfyn Evans was again not happy with his rhythm – as he had been in the morning – but has moved up from sixth to fifth spot at the expense of his team-mate Takamoto Katsuta.
“I stalled once again and I don’t know why I stalled,” said Katsuta, who is now 10.6s behind Evans. “Quite frustrated but OK.”
Evans added: “It was very slippery, maybe softs [tires] would’ve been preferable in here but OK, that’s how it is.”
Gus Greensmith and Pierre-Louis Loubet complete the top eight as the sole cars from M-Sport and 2C Competition.
1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) 10m00.5s
2 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota) +4.9s
3 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +5.7s
4 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +9.2s
5 Dani Sordo/Borja Rozada (Hyundai) +10.2s
6 Gus Greensmith/Stuart Loudon (M-Sport Ford) +16.8s
Leading positions after SS5
1 Tänak/Järveoja (Hyundai) 54m27.9s
2 Ogier/Ingrassia (Toyota) +23.6s
3 Sordo/Rozada (Hyundai) +27.1s
4 Neuville/Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +40.8s
5 Evans/Martin (Toyota) +50.7s
6 Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt (Toyota) +1m01.3s
7 Greensmith/Loudon (M-Sport Ford) +1m27.7s
8 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Florian Haut-Labourdette (Hyundai) +2m00.2s
9 Mads Østberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroën) +2m30.1s
10 Jari Huttunen/Mikko Lukka (Hyundai) +2m52.3s