World Rally Championship points leader Sebastien Ogier continues his dominance of the Tour de Course, while Kris Meeke’s Citroen C3 crashed out of second place.
Thierry Neuville and Meeke started the final stage of the day, the 10.8 mile Novella stage, with identical overall times.
On Novella, where Meeke has hit major trouble in each of the two previous years, his Citroen was firmly stuck in the bushes 3.5 miles into the stage. Meeke and his co-driver Paul Nagle were reported OK but didn’t make it to the end of the stage, and it’s unknown whether they will return tomorrow.
The team reported a misinterpreted pacenote as the reason for Meeke’s off, although the cause is yet to be officially confirmed.
Ott Tanak, who began the stage 3.1 seconds behind Meeke and Neuville, set the joint-fastest time along with his team-mate Esapekka Lappi on Novella, to leap into second place by a single tenth of a second.
It means Ogier will head into the final day of the first all-asphalt event of the season in Corsica with a lead of 44.5s over Tanak, with Neuville a further 0.1s back in third.
Lappi, who described his Toyota as “10 times better than it was yesterday” sits in fourth place just over 10 seconds adrift of the final spot on the podium after posting the quickest time on the first and last stage of the afternoon.
Elfyn Evans along with his substitute 2003 co-driver champion Phil Mills continue their close fight with Dani Sordo for fifth position, Sordo sits just 3.1s in front in fifth place.
Jari-Matti Latvala hit a tree on the second pass through the Cagnano – Pino – Canari stage. Although he re-joined the stage after a lengthy delay, Toyota elected to prematurely end his day due to damage.
Consequently, Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen heads into the final day of the rally in seventh position, 18.8s off Evans.
Latvala wasn’t the only victim of the opening test of the afternoon loop, with Bryan Bouffier suffering an engine failure in the third M-Sport Fiesta, dropping him out of 10th.
Their retirements promoted WRC2 category leader Jan Kopecky to eighth place overall and with his Skoda team-mate Ole Christian Veiby crawling to the end of the final stage of the afternoon with gearbox failure, privateer Fabio Andolfi moved up to ninth overall and second in the WRC2 class.
Sunday will hold the first powerstage since the introduction of the new rules, aiming to prevent teams from taking a tactical approach to earning the bonus points.
|1||RC1||Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia||M-Sport Ford WRT||Ford||2h43m07.7s|
|2||RC1||Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT||Toyota||44.5s|
|3||RC1||Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul||Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT||Hyundai||44.6s|
|4||RC1||Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT||Toyota||54.9s|
|5||RC1||Dani Sordo, C.del Barrio||Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT||Hyundai||1m46.7s|
|6||RC1||Elfyn Evans, P.Mills||M-Sport Ford WRT||Ford||1m49.8s|
|7||RC1||Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager||Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT||Hyundai||2m13.5s|
|8||WRC2||Jan Kopecky, P.Dresler||Skoda Motorsport II||Skoda||8m22.9s|
|9||WRC2||Fabio Andolfi, S.Scattolin||ACI Team Italia||Skoda||11m27.2s|
|10||WRC2||Ole-Christian Veiby, S.R.Skjaermoen||Skoda Motorsport II||Skoda||12m12.8s|