Reigning World Champion Sebastien Ogier will go into the final day of Rally Italia with a commanding lead after team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala hit problems in Sardinia.
Latvala began the second stage with fears of retirement after his engine temperatures shot up to extreme levels. After preparing the car for retirement the problem seemingly cleared and he was able to pick up the pace.
The afternoon stages weren’t as lucky though. Latvala had a 17.7 second lead over Ogier, but the Finn’s engine stalled towards the end of special stage 12, which cut his lead down to 12.3s.
Things continued to fall to pieces for Latvala when he hit a rock and damaged a rear wheel on the Monte Lerno stage. This contact forced him to fit a spare which entailed a loss of two minutes, and the rally lead.
“It was my mistake,” said Latvala. “The rear of the car jumped out of the ruts and we damaged the wheel on a rock. I had to stop.”
Ogier took advantage of his team-mates misfortunes by winning both of the afternoon stages to increase his lead to 1m40.2s over the Citroen of Mads Ostberg.
Ostberg was also able to capitalise on Latvala’s problems. The Norwegian goes into the final day with a 21.3s gap to Latvala. Ostberg also increased his lead to fellow countryman Andreas Mikkelsen who sits in fourth, almost a minute behind the Citroen.
After working so hard to be cautious and finish, Robert Kubica’s Rally Italia came to a grinding halt as he ripped the right-front wheel off his Ford Focus RS WRC on SS12. This promoted his M-Sport team-mate Elfyn Evans into fifth ahead of privateer Martin Prokop in sixth, who is over a minute behind the Welshman.
1. Sebastien Ogier VW 3h30m15.8s
2. Mads Ostberg Citroen +1m40.2s
3. Jari-Matti Latvala VW +2m01.5s
4. Andreas Mikkelsen VW +2m37.8s
5. Elfyn Evans M-Sport Ford +4m24.3s
6. Martin Prokop Czech Ford +5m26.1s
7. Henning Solberg Solberg Ford +6m09.6s
8. Khalid Al Qassimi Citroen +15m05.2s
9. Lorenzo Bertelli FWRT Ford +16m08.1s *
10. Bernardo Sousa Sousa Ford +17m32.4s *