Dani Sordo continues to battle hard for second place on Rally Italy, admitting that he’s “lucky to be here” after nearly crashing out on the famous Monte Lerno test.
A day-long battle between Sordo and Craig Breen for second places has raged on throughout Saturday, with the pair taking turns to take time out of one another.
This time it was Sordo who clawed back some time on Breen, reducing the gap to 12 seconds.
But he very nearly didn’t finish the stage at all.
Gus Greensmith had come through the stage second on the road and had words of warning for the drivers behind.
“It’s very easy to make a mistake on the last bit,” the M-Sport driver astutely observed.
Adrien Fourmaux was the first to have a bit of a wobbly at a left-hander approximately 300 meters from the finish line, sliding a tad wide but otherwise going on his merry way to seventh-fastest time.
Unlike Fourmaux, who lacked a clear incentive to push after a tire off the rim on the previous stage put him out of tough with the top four, Sordo was on a big push trying to catch the lead Ford Puma driven by Breen.
Approaching the same left-hander, he slid wide on loose gravel and dipped the right-rear wheel over the edge of a hillside, coming inches from dropping off the edge and sliding down into trees below.
Sordo knew he’d been a very lucky man to survive and continue his fight for second.
“I’m lucky to be here,” he confessed. “It [the corner] was not fast. I don’t know how I did it but it was nice!”
There were no such dramas for Sordo’s Hyundai team-mate and rally leader Ott Tänak.
On the stage famous for Micky’s Jump, the 2019 world champion was flying, winning Monte Lerno by 5.1 seconds.
Tänak had been surprised at his domination of the Coiluna-Loelle test immediately preceding Monte Lerno. It was more of the same on the next stage – he wasn’t pushing hard to extend his lead.
“I’m just driving very clean always in the line, no pushing. It’s working OK at the moment,” said Tänak.
Kalle Rovanperä made further inroads on Fourmaux’s fifth place, chipping away at the gap by 4.4s on Monte Lerno to reduce the deficit to 19.1s.
- Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) 11m26.7s
- Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai) +5.1s
- Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +6.1s
- Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +7.8s
- Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +8.7s
- Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (M-Sport Ford) +9.9s
- Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +13.1s
- Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (M-Sport Ford) +17.7s
- Jan Solans /Rodrigo Sanjuan (Citroën) +24.5s
- Nikolay Gryazin/ Konstantin Aleksandrov (Škoda) +24.6s
Leading positions after SS15
- Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) 2h18m47.4s
- Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +45.0s
- Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai) +57.0s
- Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (M-Sport Ford) +1m12.1s
- Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +2m00.0s
- Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +2m19.1s
- Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +2m56.9s
- Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (M-Sport Ford) +4m37.3s
- Nikolay Gryazin/ Konstantin Aleksandrov (Škoda) +5m27.1s
- Jan Solans /Rodrigo Sanjuan (Citroën) +6m00.7s