World Champion takes lead in Italy
- 9th June 2016, 11:04pm
Sébastien Ogier won Thursday evening’s opening speed test at Rally Italia Sardegna after defeating Hayden Paddon in the final heat at Ittiri Arena.
The FIA World Rally Championship leader completed the 2.00km test three-tenths of a second faster than Ott Tänak and Jari-Matti Latvala, who both won their heats, in his Volkswagen Polo R.
“It’s always good to be fastest, especially here,” said the Frenchman. “It’s great to see such an atmosphere and so many enthusiastic fans.”
An estimated 10,000 people packed the former autocross arena and they watched Ford Fiesta RS driver Tänak beat Thierry Neuville, while Latvala overcame Dani Sordo’s Hyundai i20 in their respective heats.
Kevin Abbring and Andreas Mikkelsen were tied for fourth place, 0.6sec off Ogier’s pace, with Hyundai team-mates Neuville and Paddon level in sixth.
Valeriy Gorban spun his Mini John Cooper Works at the first two corners and was overtaken by Abbring. The Ukraine driver suspected a differential or driveshaft broke before the start.
Martin Prokop started the rally with a five minute penalty for breaking the seal on a rear differential to carry out repairs following last month’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal.
After an overnight halt in the rally base of Alghero, the rally continues tomorrow with a morning loop of four rough-road gravel stages north-east of the town, which is repeated in the afternoon after service. The eight stages cover 102.86km.
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