Spaniard Dani Sordo (Hyundai i20) has reached the end of the first day of the eighth round of the World Rally in Sardinia with a 10.8 seconds lead over Finn Teemu Suninen (Ford Fiesta).
The Hyundai rider finished the day in a time of 1: 36.01.5 hours on a day marked by problems suffered by some of the top favorites in the title fight.
Starting with champion Sébastien Ogier of France (Citroën C3), who hit a stone in Tergu, third of the eight specials of the day, breaking one arm off the suspension. The Frenchman was forced to leave, due to return on Saturday in the super-rally format, with a 25-minute penalty.
According to the team, the goal will be to "test some parts" in what is missing from the Italian race, because only in the last special of the race, the power stage, will be possible to add one of the five points under discussion.
Also the Finnish Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota Yaris) 'sank' in the classification after topping in the sixth section, the first of the afternoon. "We cut a curve and the car rolled in. There was no one to help and we spent a lot of energy to get him back on track," said an exhausted Latvala, who still had to get medical care at the end of the special.
The Finn was able to continue in the race despite the broken windshield, but is in 49th at 18.27.5 minutes.
Belgian Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20) suffered several chances throughout the day, which delayed their classification. A hole, a top and a broken radiator after a touch of a ditch left the Belgian, third in the league, in seventh place, 57.7 seconds behind his team-mate.
The day was also marked by the cancellation of the seventh special, after a health problem felt by a spectator, who needed medical attention, which forced to stop the section for the entrance of the emergency teams.
On Saturday, Dani Sordo enjoys the position on the track and hopes to "fight for victory". "We were consistent throughout the day. Having left so far helped, of course, but even in the afternoon the pace was similar," he said.
Estonian Ott Tanak (Toyota Yaris), who after Ogier's abandonment became the first driver on the track, was happy to have lost just 11.2 seconds for the leader.
"With this position on track, it was better than expected," he admitted.
This Saturday, there will be six more specials, with a total of 142.42 kilometers timed.