Ott Tänak leads Rally Italia Sardegna by 34.7 seconds ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala after Hayden Paddon retired on SS13 on Saturday afternoon.
Tänak took the lead after the New Zealander hit a bank on the first stage in the afternoon loop of stages which destroyed both the rear end of the Hyundai i20 and his hopes of winning his first event of the season.
Despite managing to drag the car to the end of the stage, Paddon retired shortly after and the youngster admitted the incident was his own fault: “Amateur mistake, I turned in too early and clipped a bank on the inside. I’ve let everybody down.”
With Paddon’s error, Tänak leads from Latvala who has moved up from fourth on Friday after a fine run in the leading Toyota. The Fin’s only issue on Saturday was dust being kicked up by Mads Østberg; the privateer Ford driver having had issues throughout the day.
Slipping to third at the end of Saturday is Thierry Neuville who lies 1 minute and two seconds behind Tanak; the Belgian could have been in serious contention for the victory if not for a brake failure that cost him a minute in lost time.
Fourth is Esapekka Lappi in the second Toyota and he is followed by team mate Juho Hänninen in fifth; the pair swapping places on the final stage of the day as Hänninen spun and also had power steering issues.
Sixth with one day remaining is World champion Sebastian Ogier who again struggled in Italy; a puncture costing two minutes in lost time added to the Frenchman’s misery after another tough day in the M-Sport Fiesta.
Behind Østberg in eighth is Andreas Mikkelsen; the former VW driver is continuing to get used to the brand-new Citroen C3 and is the last WRC driver running without issues. Drivers including Elfyn Evans and Craig Breen have both competed under Rally 2 rules after retiring on Friday.
WRC2 continues to be led by Jan Kopecky ahead of Ole Christian Veiby and Takamoto Katsuta, while the WRC3 class sees Neil Solans lead ahead of Nicolas Ciamin and Julius Tannert with again the three WRC3 drivers making up the JWRC leader board also.
Finally, the WRC Trophy class has Yazeed Al-Rajhi leading ahead of Jean-Michel Raoux and Martin Prokop.
Rally Italia Sardegna concludes on Sunday, June 12.