WRC: Sordo takes the lead on a drama-packed day on Rally Italia

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It is a tight battle for the laurels on Rally Italia Sardegna after the first full day, with Hyundai’s Dani Sordo on top, ahead of M-Sport’s Teemu Suninen and Toyota’s Ott Tänak.

The leading trio covered by only 11.2 seconds. During the afternoon, temperatures remained high, but the sky was overcast and it was quite windy as well on the Mediterranean island.

There was plenty of drama, with early afternoon leader Jari-Matti Latvala rolling his Toyota on the first stage after the midday service, after cutting a hairpin bend. He managed to put the car onto its wheels but limped to the end of the stage with a broken windscreen and lost more than eight minutes. Certainly exhausted after such intense efforts in the dazzling heat, the Finn went off again on the final stage.

This delivered an intense fight for the lead, with Tänak and Sordo matching each other on pace. However, thanks to his better road position, further down the order, Sordo was able to pull clear, ending the day 10.8 seconds ahead of M-Sport Ford driver Suninen, in the runner-up spot.

Tänak finished Friday only 0.4 seconds behind Suninen, in third, having suffered with dirty roads.

Suninen set the fastest stage time in SS6, while the following stage was cancelled because of a medical emergency for a spectator in the stage. The competitive action resumed for the final two stages, which were won by the Hyundai duo of Sordo and Andreas Mikkelsen respectively.

This helped to secure fourth overnight for Mikkelsen, just a tenth of second ahead of M-Sport driver Elfyn Evans, who had a clean run.

Toyota’s Kris Meeke is in sixth position in spite of his lack of experience after missing Sardinia last year. He heads Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville, who lost time after going off and damaging his car - the result of a misunderstanding with pace-notes.

Esapekka Lappi is in eighth for Citroën, after a frustrating day during which the Finn was affected by a sensor issue in the afternoon. He ends Friday ahead of Juho Hanninen, who classifies ninth on his Toyota return.

Rounding off the top 10 is FIA WRC 2 leader Pierre-Louis Loubet, in his Škoda Fabia R5.

In the FIA WRC 2 class, Rally Portugal winner Kalle Rovenperä leads the field, ahead of his Škoda team-mate Jan Kopecky and Citroën’s Mads Østberg.

FIA WRC 2 leader Loubet holds a comfortable 22.2 second advantage over Nikolay Gryazin, with Takamoto Katsuta 58.4 seconds behind the French.

Dennis Radstrom claims the lead in the FIA Junior WRC. Tom Kristensson is second and Nil Solans third at the end of the first full day of action.

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