Ogier retakes Sardinia lead from Lappi

The eight-time champion stole 1.8s from the Hyundai driver to lead by 1.7s


Sébastien Ogier has responded to overnight leader Esapekka Lappi perfectly, taking 1.8 seconds out of the Hyundai to jump ahead into first.

Coming into the second full day of Rally Italy Sardinia action, it was Lappi who held a slender 0.1s lead after a to and fro battle throughout Friday’s stages.

But it was Ogier who came out of the blocks quickest on Saturday’s first pass of Coiluna-Loelle, putting in a time good enough to send him into the lead and 1.7s ahead.

“For sure, we need to drive fast,” he said. “With EP there is no gap at all and Thierry is now only 17sec behind. We need to drive as fast as possible.”

But Lappi didn’t feel as confident at keeping up in the lead battle as the day progresses.

“I don’t know if I can really push any harder but it was a clean stage,” he explained.

“For sure you can drive a bit faster but there are some still some muddy places which you don’t know, so you need to keep some gap.”

Takamoto Katsuta’s morning got off to a far from ideal start as he ripped off the front end of his Toyota GR Rally1 coming through a water crossing.

That left him dramatically down on power with the need to check the problem following the stage.

In turn that allowed Elfyn Evans to jump ahead of his team-mate into fifth place, 27.7s behind Kalle Rovanperä.

The reigning champion is still a distance away from the top three with TNeuville ahead, and it was the Hyundai driver who had the advantage on the first stage of the morning by 1.3s to extend his gap over Rovanperä to 28.8s.

“Of course you always want to see yourself higher on the standings but I don’t know if that’s possible and it’s not really my call,” Rovanperä said.

“I just want to have as good a morning as possible and see where we end up.”

Meanwhile Ott Tänak is still seventh but now just 2.1s shy of Katsuta following the Toyota driver’s SS8 problems.

The M-Sport driver was relatively pleased with how Saturday’s first stage went and is feeling positive with the surface conditions.

“The guys had plenty of jobs last night and the car is working fine,” he explained.

“It’s quite a lot more damp so it’s probably a bit better. We are like we are.”