It was a long day for the protagonists of 2017 Rally Italia Sardegna, Italia round of the World Rally Championship organized by Automobile Club Italia with the support of Regione Sardegna. Crews entered in the race started their engine enrly in the morning for the skakedown, then, in the afternoon, they took part in the starting ceremony from the Alghero seaside and in the following SSS1 “Ittiri Arena Show” in front of an enthusiastic crowd, before ending the day with the long liaison to Olbia where they stopped for the night parc fermé. A long day, as said, but only a preview of what they are going to face in the next three days of tough competition. During the 2km test at the Ittiri Arena Thierry Neuville and his co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul gained the first lead in the standings with the time of 2’01.8 on their Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, 0.2 seconds ahead of Ott Tanak – Martjn Jarveoia behind the wheel of M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC. Third fastest were Dani Sordo – Marc Marti, 0.4 behind with the second i20 Coupe WRC from Hyundai Motorsport. After the first very short stage world champion Sebastian Ogier is fifth, while Andreas Mikkelsen, back on a WRC car again for Citroen, is eighth, first among the C3 WRC drivers. Out of the top-ten the first Toyota Yaris WRC, with Jari-Matti Latvala on eleventh position.
In WRC2 Yohan Rossel leads the way on the Citroen DS3 R5 he shares with Benoit Fulcrand. WRC3 provisional leader is Jakub Brzezinski on another Citroen DS3 but in R3T specs. In the Junior WRC fastest time for Nil Solans Baldo and Miquel Ibanez Soto with Ford Fiesta R2.
Tomorrow Friday’s itinerary features a double transit on four stages for a total of 125.46 competitive kilometres. The loop marks the return of Terranova (14.54km) and Monte Olia (19.05km) and, as last year, Tula (15km) and Tergu-Osilo (14.14km) before heading back to service in Alghero. Cars will repeat the same loop in the afternoon and overnight in Alghero.
Provisional top-10: Neuville-Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) in 2’01”8; 2. Tanak-Jarveoia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +0”2; 3. Sordo-Marti (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +0”4; 4. Evans-Barrit (Ford Fiesta WRC) +0”5; 5. Paddon-Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) and Ogier-Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +0”9; 7. Ostberg-Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1”0; 8. Mikkelsen – Jaeger-Synnevaag (Citroen C3 WRC) +1”1; 9. Meeke-Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) +1”2; 10. Breen-Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +1”6.