Italy WRC: Paddon takes narrow lead as Meeke crashes
Hyundai's Hayden Paddon leads after Friday’s morning loop in Rally Italy, taking over from Kris Meeke, who rolled his Citroen out of contention.
Meeke led after SS2, the first Friday stage, and SS4, as Juho Hanninen temporarily jumped into first after SS3, which the Toyota driver topped by over three seconds.
The Citroen of Meeke sported major damage to the right-hand side and to the rear after the Ulsterman's roll, but he and co-driver Paul Nagle made it to the end of the stage and continued on to service.
In the drama that ensued, Hanninen’s teammate Esapekka Lappi went fastest on SS5, despite having no second gear in one of the more extraordinary stage times in recent memory.
Paddon leads Hanninen by 4.3 seconds, with Mads Ostberg's privateer Ford Fiesta just a tenth behind Hanninen in third place after taking the second-fastest time on SS5.
M-Sport driver Tanak fell 10.3s behind Ostberg at the end of the loop, but remains fourth.
The Hyundai of Dani Sordo had split Ostberg and Tanak and was fastest through SS4, but a suspected broken turbo on the following stage cost him over a minute and relegated the Spaniard to ninth.
Sordo's teammate Thierry Neuville dropped to fifth after leading overnight by topping the rally opening super special. The Belgian is second on the road and is struggling with having to sweep the road for the drivers further back.
Toyota's Jari-Matti Latvala lost time over the morning loop in places thanks to being too cautious, but he holds sixth, only 2.2s behind Neuville in the overall order.
Neuville wasn’t the only driver to struggle with road sweeping, as reigning champion Sebastien Ogier (M-Sport Ford) is 37.7s adrift of the lead thanks to being the first car on the road.
The points leader only has to run first on the road for the first full day, but any chance of a victory for the Frenchman appear slim.
Citroen new boy Andreas Mikkelsen is the highest-placed Citroen in eighth, his teammate Craig Breen having retired earlier with an oil leak after a heavy landing after a crest.
Lappi rounds out the top 10, 4.3s behind Sordo.
Elfyn Evans put his DMACK Fiesta off the road on SS4, forcing him into retirement as his front-right wheel was dislodged.
Standings after SS5
|3.||Mads Ostberg||M-Sport Ford||+4.4s|
|4.||Ott Tanak||M-Sport Ford||+14.7s|
|7.||Sebastien Ogier||M-Sport Ford||+37.7s|
Italy WRC: Neuville leads Tanak after Thursday stage
Citroen disappointed by Meeke's Italy crash