Dani Sordo has broken Ott Tänak’s relentless run of Rally Italy stage wins to wrestle second place back from Sébastien Ogier, having lost it on the previous test.
Sordo’s time of 11m23.5s was 1.8 seconds better than what his rally-leading team-mate could manage and 7.3s faster than Ogier’s effort, elevating him into second place with a 3.8s cushion.
But the Hyundai driver was unhappy.
“You need to think all the time about the tires. I’m disappointed in this,” he said.
“It’s crazy, but when you can drive well and you don’t care the times are good, but after you start to think about tomorrow, or later, or what?”
Tänak, who had been untouchable throughout Friday before being edged by Sordo on SS6, was still second fastest on the stage to hold a 25.3s advantage at the head of the field.
“Today is our chance to win some gap,” he said.
Thierry Neuville had been looking strong for a stage win on SS6 before making an error at a tight hairpin, struggling to get his i20 Coupe WRC around the corner and nudging a gate as he swung his Hyundai round.
He had been up on the splits, but ultimately he was fourth fastest and missed out by 7.9s.
“I couldn’t rotate the car and went to neutral so had to re-engage the gear, so lost two seconds there,” said Neuville. “I felt I did a really good stage without the mistake.”
Neuville has a 10.3s barrier over fifth-placed Elfyn Evans, outpacing the Toyota by 0.4s on Erula – Tula.
“It’s still not fantastic to be honest,” said Evans of his confidence with the car. “I think it was a bit better in here but not where I’d like to be.”
Evans is at least not under too much pressure as Takamoto Katsuta has slipped further behind, losing another 1.5s as he suffered yet another stall on SS6. He has 12.1s to make up on Evans.
M-Sport’s Gus Greensmith selected a full package of hard compound tires and he admitted the stage conditions were probably “too loose” for his rubber to be effective. He’s 31.7s adrift of Katsuta.
2C Competition Hyundai driver Pierre-Louis Loubet is continuing in eighth overall, losing 0.9s to Greensmith on SS6 but keeping out of trouble.
“We try to take pleasure,” he commented.
Mads Østberg’s dominance of WRC2 is similar to Tänak’s in WRC, as he has also won five out of six stages thus far.
But unlike Tänak, Østberg was quickest on Erula – Tula by 6.4s to extend his lead over Jari Huttunen to 28.6s overall.
1 Dani Sordo/Borja Rozada (Hyundai) 11m23.5s
2 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) +1.8s
3 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota) +7.3s
4 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +7.9s
5 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +8.3s
6 Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt (Toyota) +9.8s
Leading positions after SS6
1 Tänak/Järveoja (Hyundai) 1h05m53.2s
2 Sordo/Rozada (Hyundai) +25.3s
3 Ogier/Ingrassia (Toyota) +29.1s
4 Neuville/Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +46.9s
5 Evans/Martin (Toyota) +57.2s
6 Katsuta/Barritt (Toyota) +1m09.3s
7 Gus Greensmith/Stuart Loudon (M-Sport Ford) +1m41.0s
8 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Florian Haut-Labourdette (Hyundai) +2m14.4s
9 Mads Østberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroën) +2m53.4s
10 Jari Huttunen/Mikko Lukka (Hyundai) +3m22.0s