For only the second time this season, three Toyota Yaris WRC cars took the start of a World Championship Rally, with Jari-Matti Latvala, Juho Hänninen and Esapekka Lappi completing the opening mixed-surface super special stage in Sardinia, before embarking on a long road section to the other side of the island in preparation for tomorrow’s action.
The two-kilometre Ittiri Arena Show stage contained both gravel and asphalt as well as a water splash, and it proved to be unexpectedly slippery. The competition was extremely close between all the factory drivers. The three TOYOTA GAZOO Racing drivers were just next to the top 10 with Latvala 11th, Lappi 12th and Hänninen 13th.
Tom Fowler (Chief Engineer)
“We completed a few more runs in the shakedown this morning than we would do normally, as our test in Sardinia was carried out a while ago rather than immediately before the rally. We’re in a good position where we made some nice steps forward in Portugal so we wanted to tune those new developments into this rally, which concentrated mostly on suspension. The priority for the short super special stage tonight was just to get through it and have a clean run. The real rally starts tomorrow with some typically Sardinian stages: slow and twisty with lots of tricky places to watch out for.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“We did a few runs over the shakedown and I have a good feeling with the car. But tomorrow is when we really know; starting third on the road it’s quite tough to win here so I would be very happy to be on the podium. On the super special stage I thought that I drove quite well, but the time was not so good. Still, it’s only a very short stage.”
Juho Hänninen (Driver car 11)
“I’ve enjoyed my time in Sardinia so far: we had a good recce and a good shakedown, so both me and the car are ready for the challenge ahead. It was extremely slippery on the super special stage on the corner after the water splash and we hit the side of the car slightly – but luckily without any big damage.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 12)
“I know that my job is to collect information for the team, so this is going to be my focus for the weekend. In any case, this is a rally that you have to approach very carefully. It was nice to put on a show at the super special stage but it’s so slippery out there – lots of sideways! It was pretty okay considering the grip; we’ll see. The important thing from now on is to keep a cool head. It's better to go a bit more slowly and be sure to get to the end rather than to take risks.”
End of SS1:
1 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 2m01.8s
2 Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +0.2s
3 Dani Sordo/Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +0.4s
4 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +0.5s
5 Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +0.9s
6 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +0.9s
7 Mads Ostberg/Ola Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1.0s
8 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Citroen C3 WRC) +1.1s
9 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC): +1.2s
10 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC): +1.6s
11 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1.8s
12 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2.0s
13 Juho Hänninen/Kaj Lindström (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3.7s
(Results as of 20:00 on Thursday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Italy’s round of the World Rally Championship has been based in Sardinia since 2004, having previously taken place around Sanremo on the mainland from 1973. The current World Championship rally is based on the route of the Costa Smeralda Rally, first held in 1978. It was last won by Toyota in 1998 with Italian driver Giuseppe ‘Pucci’ Grossi, at the wheel of a Celica GT-Four. On that occasion, it was a Toyota one-two with Carlo Zucchetti second in another Celica.
Friday’s first full day of competitive action on Rally Italia Sardegna takes place between the cities of Olbia and Alghero. It consists of two identical loops of four stages, with service at Alghero in between. There is also a final service halt at Alghero in the evening. The drivers have a long day in store tomorrow, leaving parc ferme in Olbia at 06:30 and then entering final service in Alghero at 20:00 after 125.46 stage kilometres. Like today, more hot weather is expected.
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