TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi completed the first full day of competition on Rally Italia Sardegna occupying third and fourth positions respectively. Ott Tänak was lying third overall when he was forced to stop on the final stage after a heavy landing damaged the cooling system.
The day’s eight stages took place in unusually changeable weather, with rain showers mixed with in the sunny conditions that are more familiar in Sardinia. On the third stage of the day, Tergu – Osilo 1, Tänak claimed a stage win, maintaining his record of posting a fastest time on every rally he has contested in the Toyota Yaris WRC since he joined the team at the start of 2018. After his day came to an early end on Monte Baranta 2, the team will investigate the damage and determine whether he can restart under Rally2 rules tomorrow.
Latvala enjoyed an incident-free day and won the final test of the day as he moved up into third place, 4.4 seconds ahead of Lappi. After a puncture had caused him to be cautious during the morning loop, Lappi leapt up the leaderboard when he was second quickest in a very wet second run through the Tula test, and repeated that result on the final stage of the day.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“We don’t know exactly what happened to Ott. The team are investigating to see whether it will be possible for him to restart tomorrow. It is a very unfortunate situation because I know that Ott really wanted a good result here for his championship bid. It has been a very tricky day. We had a very good test here in Sardinia before Rally Argentina, but then it was completely dry. Today the conditions were completely different with a lot of mud and very little grip, and the setup we had this morning was not the best without the information for what would work in these conditions. Later this afternoon it was drier and both Jari-Matti and Esapekka improved their performances. They are right together on the leaderboard and it could be a good battle between them tomorrow.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“Today has been very positive. I was too cautious on the second stage this morning but then I started to find the rhythm and the speed. In the second run through Tula the conditions were more like Wales with the rain and the mud, and it was so slippery. I lost a lot of time at the end of that stage, but after that the conditions got better, I felt like I could push more and then in the final stage of the day I had the confidence to attack and we won the stage. It’s very close with Esapekka going into tomorrow. I like tomorrow’s stages and the most important thing will be to have a clean run. Then, if we can keep the speed up as well, we will be in a good position.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“On the final stage of the day we had a bad landing which caused some damage to the car and forced us to stop. The impact caught us by surprise quite a bit because we have driven this section of road four times now, including the shakedown yesterday and the first pass this morning, and I always had the same approach. Therefore it’s difficult to explain why it happened. It’s a tough moment and a big setback. Even though I hadn’t had a perfect feeling with the car today, we were doing OK and we were still in the fight, so it’s a big shame to have to retire from the day with this kind of issue. It makes our title chase really hard now, but we will try to win every other rally from here.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“This morning was quite difficult. That car felt OK but we had a slow puncture in the first stage and our one spare tyre was a hard compound, and because it was raining it was not really a good tyre to put on. The conditions were crazy in the first stage this afternoon with a lot of mud and rain but we managed to do a good run there and gain some time back to most of the others. Then the weather dried up, and we made some small changes to the car before the last stage and we were close to the top time. I think we can just work to find a little more grip for tomorrow and fight for the podium.”
End of day two (Friday):
1 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1h35m56.9s
2 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +18.9s
3 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +37.2s
4 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +41.6s
5 Mads Ostberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroen C3 WRC) +58.3s
6 Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m01.5s
7 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +1m26.0s
8 Stephane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau (Citroen C3 R5) +4m02.9s
9 Jan Kopecky/Pavel Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) +4m16.9s
10 Nicolas Ciamin/Thibault de la Haye (Hyundai i20 R5) +5m20.7s
19 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +10m15.1s
(Results as of 21:00 on Friday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Saturday’s action is based the east in the Monte Acuto region, where there are three stages that will each be run twice. This includes the Monte Lerno stage, home to the famous Micky’s Jump. The two loops are separated by another visit to Ittiri – scene of Thursday night’s opening stage – following midday service in Alghero.
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