Sebastien Ogier leads after day two of Rally Sardinia, after keeping his composure during a crazy day which saw the WRC field reduced to just four cars and Hyundai have another Saturday horror show. Ogier was already delighted to be third overnight but he was soon to be even happier as his early morning pace soon saw him into second. The lead would soon be his however as disaster was to hit the leading Hyundai.
Ott Tanak began the day in much the same vein as he finished the previous day, winning the opening stage of the day before slowly extending his lead to over 40 seconds before disaster struck on SS12, a small rock on the inside of left hand corner proved too much for Tanak’s Hyundai i20 WRC and the rear suspension instantly broke, leaving the Estonian to mull over another lead lost on a Saturday.
Silently going about his business was Elfyn Evans, who despite complaining of a dreadful opening day came back fighting and now found himself second overall. Similar to last year, Evans would make sure he was in a position to profit from the misfortune of others. While his title rival Ogier is currently ahead, this knack of turning average rallies into strong points hauls will again see him in contention come the end of the season.
Dani Sordo was off the pace throughout the morning and ceded his position to Ogier as early as the second stage of the day. Sordo was back on the pace after the midday service, but Ogier was still able to add to his lead over him. To compound Hyundai’s dreadful day, Sordo would run wide on SS15 and hit a culvert hidden in the undergrowth.
Once again the Hyundai’s rear suspension was found wanting and the wheel was ripped off instantly, forcing Sordo to retire on the spot. This promoted team-mate Thierry Neuville up to third after a strange day which would have the Belgium on and off the pace, but of course this was no consolation for Hyundai as this leader board rise was because of the loss of their other two cars.
In a lonely fourth was Takamoto Katsuta who incredibly was the last WRC driver not competing under Rally2 restart regulations. Four minutes off the lead, Katsuta had a frustrating day with two punctures and then on SS15 lost over a minute as the radiator blanking plate had been left on the front of the car. Katsuta stopped soon after the stage start to allow co-driver Daniel Barritt to remove it, luckily for the crew the time loss didn’t lose them a position due to the attrition.
M-Sport suffered another difficult day, both drivers returned under Rally2 rules but Gus Green Smith would soon retire again for the day with what were reported to be technical problems. Teemu Suninen did make it to the end of day two unscathed, rarely threatening the top times as he looked to gain experience and make it through the day.
Kalle Rovenpera was another returning under Rally2 rules, with an uneventful day seeing him post times just slight quicker than Suninen but not troubling the leading crews. Pierre-Louis Loubet continued to suffer from his run of bad luck stopping in SS12 after reporting a burning smell. A loss of two and a half minutes saw the Frenchman call it a day at the mid day service.
It was however a great day for WRC2 drivers as the misfortune of the main category drivers propelled them up the leader board. In an incredible fifth overnight was Jari Huttunen as he tooked the lead following a one-minute time penalty that was issued to sixth place Mads Ostberg in a Citroen C3 Rally2. Ostberg fuelled this anger into his driving however and would be only 2.7 seconds off Huttunen at the end of the day. A trio of WRC3 leaders followed with Yohan Rossel in seventh, Pepe Lopez eighth and Jan Solans in ninth. Third in WRC2 but tenth overall was Marco Bulacia, with Brit Chris Ingram just one position off his first WRC points in eleventh.