Dani Sordo is the surprise leader of 2019 Rally Italia Sardegna after a day of attrition on Friday’s eight stages.
Sordo leads M-Sport Ford’s Teemu Suninen – the Finn had won the opening pair of stages this morning – by 10.8 seconds before spinning on stage four cost him vital time before a comeback throughout the afternoon loop.
Jari-Matti Latvala had taken over the lead following Suninen’s demise and was out in front until stage six where he rolled his Toyota after cutting a hairpin left. He tried to continue throughout the remaining stages but stopped on the final stage of the day.
Sebastien Ogier was another man in trouble. The defending champion had been first on the road but the Frenchman broke a front left suspension arm on stage five and he retired from the remaining action on Friday.
Citroen are deciding overnight whether to restart Ogier in the event, with the team wondering if there is any point in again running first on the road in an event they claim they have no realistic chance of scoring points in following his problem.
Third overall at the end of Friday is Ott Tänak, with the Toyota driver producing several strong times despite being forced to run first on the road following Ogier’s retirement. He sits just 0.4 seconds behind Suninen.
Andreas Mikkelsen is fourth, nine seconds further behind, with the Norwegian believing he should have been further up the leaderboard if not for a wrong tyre choice this morning. He leapfrogged Elfyn Evans on the last stage with the Welshman lying sixth ahead of Kris Meeke.
Thierry Neuville survived several potential rally ending incidents, including a spin on stage six that occurred after a “misunderstanding” between him and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul and is seventh overall.
Esapekka Lappi, who again struggled in the second Citroen C3 and Juho Hänninen complete the WRC leaderboard at the end of Friday.
WRC2 PRO sees Skoda pair Kalle Rovanperä and Jan Kopecký separated by just 0.6 seconds, with Mads Ostberg running over ten minutes behind following problems this morning.
Gus Greenmsith, the fourth entered driver in the class, lost control of the Ford Fiesta R5 and slid into a ditch on stage four – the Brit retired from the rest of the day.
WRC2 also sees a Skoda Fabia one-two, with French driver Pierre-Louis Loubet ahead of Nikolay Gryazin by 15.3 seconds. Toyota development driver Takamoto Katsuta completes the top three in class.
Finally, the Junior WRC is being led by Dennis Rådström ahead of fellow Swedish driver Tom Kristensson by 14.3 seconds.
American driver Sean Johnston and co-driver Alexander Kihurani walked away unhurt from a huge accident on stage six, while British driver Tom Williams is down in eighth in class at the end of Friday’s action.
Tomorrow sees a further six stages on Rally Italia Sardegna, totalling 142.42km.