Day 1: Holding a 1-2 on Friday in Sardinia
Things are heating up! On a typically hot and sunny day in Sardinia, we have shone brightly on the opening stages of the rally.
In their second rally as a crew, Hayden and Seb found themselves sitting at the top of the classification at the end of Friday. Our Belgians, Thierry and Nicolas, were just eight seconds back in second place.
It represented an encouraging start for our team at the scene of our victory twelve months ago. But with 14.7-seconds splitting the top-five, it promises to be another thriller.
We approached the opening stages with a specific plan, explained Hayden. We know you cant win this rally on the first day, so we just wanted to feel comfortable.
Stay on these roads
Road position can play an influential role in Sardinia, adding a strategic element to the weekend. Those running later in the starting order often find cleaner, less dusty roads to tackle.
Our focus was on securing a good road position for Saturday, continued Hayden. It was mission accomplished from that point of view. Its nice to be leading the rally, but we are not getting carried away.
Twice rally winners already this season, Thierry and Nicolas were second on the road on Friday. Despite that, the #5 crew was still able to move into second place, having taken a stage win in the Thursday evening Ittiri Arena Show.
We had a good start, smiled Thierry, even if we lost some seconds early on after going straight on at a junction. Our road position meant we were cleaning quite a bit but I was hoping to push for a podium position by the end of Friday. It will be really important.
The show must go on
Dani and Marc set an impressive three stage wins on Friday. Unfortunately, their progress was hampered initially by a turbo problem and then low boost pressure that lost them 14 minutes of time across three separate stages.
It overshadowed our day, admitted a disappointed Dani. The team did all they could at service to fix the turbo problem fully, but we then had more troubles at the start of the afternoon. Thankfully we were able to fix it and go flat out to take more stage wins. Without that, though, we might have been in the podium hunt, he said.
It is clear from their three stage wins that they had the speed and performance to compete at the front, added our Team Principal Michel.
Harder, better, faster, Sardinia
Saturdays itinerary will represent the greatest distance of the weekend with 143.16km of special stages. The 14.95km Coiluna-Loelle test will be followed by the longest stage of the weekend the 28.52km Montí di Ala.
The loop will conclude with an equally challenging run through the 28.11km Monte Lerno, which includes the legendary Mickys Jump.
We have had good results in Sardinia before, concludes Michel, but we are not taking anything for granted with such close competition.
Overall Classification after Day One
1 H. Paddon/S. Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 1:31:02.6
2 T. Neuville/N. Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +8.2
3 O. Tanak/M. Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +9.5
4 J.M Latvala/M. Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +9.8
5 M. Østberg/O. Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +14.7
6 J. Hänninen/K. Lindstrom (Toyota Yaris WRC) +38.0
7 S. Ogier/J. Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +41.0
8 E. Lappi/J. Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:05.3
9 A. Mikkelsen/A. Jaeger (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:57.9
10 E. Camilli/B. Veillas (Ford Fiesta R5) +4:08.0