Rally Italia Sardegna: Day 1
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing drivers battle the odds in Sardinia
The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team drivers fought strongly despite the disadvantage of their road positions on the opening day of Rally Italia Sardegna, with Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans finishing the day in fourth and fifth overall respectively after opening the road.
As a result of their positions at the top of the championship, Evans and Ogier had to run first and second on the gravel roads throughout the day’s stages with team-mate Kalle Rovanperä not far behind in fourth. Despite this, they could demonstrate the performance of the Toyota Yaris WRC in the opening loop, which consisted of two stages each run twice before the first service. Evans even set the best time in SS3 with Ogier in second, and they rounded out the morning in fourth and third overall respectively.
In the afternoon they tackled two fresh stages which had a looser surface that punished those at the start of the road order. Ogier and Evans therefore could not contend for the fastest stage times, with Ogier just losing out on third position overall by 0.8 seconds and Evans sitting 15.9s behind him. Rovanperä began the afternoon in sixth place but lost time through both stages with a steering-related issue, ending the day ninth overall.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“It has not been an easy day for us. It was looking very good in the morning and we were in quite a strong position. Then the last two stages were very, very difficult for our drivers running at the front of the order. The stages have dried out quite a lot before the rally and this was a big disadvantage. Unfortunately, when there is a full day of rallying before the road order is changed, it counts against our team with three full-time drivers all doing very well in the championship. But we couldn’t do anything about it and we will keep fighting, and tomorrow it should be better with some cars in front of Elfyn and Seb on the road. For Kalle it will be more difficult and the team will of course investigate what happened for him.”
Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 17)
“It was a good start this morning. We were all fearing this first stage a little bit, which was very challenging, very narrow and we were happy to make it through with a good time. Overall, the morning loop was good: We were in third and the two cars in front had a big advantage from their start position. The afternoon was more difficult for us like we had expected. We tried what we could but we lost a bit too much time. Tomorrow should be better with a better road position. I’m looking forward to having some better grip hopefully and to try to make some good times.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“The morning was quite good for us. The first stage was particularly slippery and I was surprised on the second pass how much grip we had, and we had a good run. There was a bit more loose gravel on the second stage but overall we came through it quite OK and managed to lose not too much time. The afternoon stages had dried quite a lot since the recce and there was a lot more loose than expected and we really suffered a lot. It’s not been an easy day, which we knew would be the case. But tomorrow our road position will be better and hopefully we can look to fight with those around us.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“This morning we took the wrong tyre choice, with three mediums and two hards. I don’t have the experience here to know how much the tyre will wear, and it was quite tricky to drive with one hard tyre on the car all the time and in the end, we didn’t need them. I was preparing to have a better feeling in the afternoon, with some small changes to the car, but we got a steering-related issue at the start of SS5, so we had to drive slowly through both stages to bring the car back to service. Tomorrow we will have to now open the road so it’s going to be a difficult day.”
End of day one (Friday):
1 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 1h12m40.9s
2 Teemu Suninen/Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +17.4s
3 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 35.2s
4 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC) +36.0s
5 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC) +51.9s
6 Gus Greensmith/Elliott Edmondson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m07.1s
7 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m33.5s
8 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m53.7s
9 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2m32.3s
10 Oliver Solberg/Aaron Johnston (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +3m01.2s
(Results as of 18:00 on Friday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Saturday follows a similar format to Friday but with a greater competitive distance of 101.69 kilometres. The well-known Monte Lerno stage (featuring the famous Micky’s Jump) and the Coiluna-Loelle test are both run twice prior to service in Alghero, before Friday afternoon’s two stages are taken on for a second time.
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