Østberg edges back onto tail of WRC2 lead with a stage to go

The battle for fifth place overall on Rally Italy is getting really heated, with Mads Østberg on a charge

Mads Ostberg

Mads Østberg has taken his anger out on the stages to slash his deficit to WRC2 leader Jari Huttunen back down to 2.1 seconds with just one Rally Italy stage to go.

Østberg had stolen the lead from Huttunen on the opening test on Sunday, recovering from a one-minute penalty he incurred when checking into Saturday midday service following a wheel drama on the road section.

But the reigning WRC2 Champion’s hard work was undone on SS18 when he picked up a puncture and dropped to 17.4s behind Huttunen’s Hyundai; much to his disgust.

However a stunning time on SS19 meant Østberg stands a real chance of sealing the WRC2 victory – and fifth place overall – as he outpaced Huttunen by 15.3s.

There were no major positions swings at the head of the field as Sébastien Ogier remains just one stage away from his third victory of the season.


Photo: Hyundai Motorsport

Elfyn Evans edged his team-mate to the stage win by 0.8s but trails by 32.9s ahead of the powerstage. Third-placed Thierry Neuville is 37.5s in arrears of Evans, meaning all that’s left to realistically be disputed is the number of bonus points each driver grabs on the powerstage.

The leading trio will face competition there though. Takamoto Katsuta in fourth, along with the restarting Dani Sordo, Kalle Rovanperä and Ott Tänak all continued their policy of taking it easy to save tires for the final test.

Sordo lost 17.2s to the stage winner, Katsuta and Rovanperä over 40s and Tänak north of a minute.

The two M-Sport cars of Gus Greensmith and Teemu Suninen were first into the stage and pushed as hard as they could, setting the fourth and sixth quickest times respectively.

Yohan Rossel

SS19 times

1 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) 8m37.0s
2 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota) +0.8s
3 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +4.1s
4 Gus Greensmith/Stuart Loudon (Ford) +9.7s
5 Mads Østberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroën) +14.3s
6 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Ford) +14.9s

Leading positions after SS19

1 Ogier/Ingrassia (Toyota) 3h13m47.8s
2 Evans/Martin (Toyota) +32.9s
3 Neuville/Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +1m10.4s
4 Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt (Toyota) +5m43.2s
5 Jari Huttunen/Mikko Lukka (Hyundai) +9m21.9s
6 Østberg/Eriksen (Citroën) +9m24.0s
7 Yohan Rossel/Alexandre Coria (Citroën) +10m26.5s
8 Pepe López/David Vallejo (Škoda) +10m49.5s
9 Jan Solans/Rodrigo Sanjuan (Citroën) +11m06.3s
10 Marco Bulacia/Marcelo Ohannesian (Škoda) +11m17.7s