The eight stages contested on Friday in Italy were anything but dull.
Wow. That's all one can say after the wild day of WRC action in Italy Friday. From cars burning to car cars flipping, these stages had it all. As can be ascertained by the title, Jari-Matti Latvala led the way in his VW. His teammate Sebastien Ogier ended the day a distant second, 22.4 seconds back.
During the morning stages, everything went wrong for Mikko Hirvonen in what was once a promising run. He and his co-driver immediately stopped their car to battle flames that had developed at the rear of the car, which intensified by the second. They desperately used fire extinguishers in an attempt to salvage the Ford Fiesta but their efforts were to no avail. The flames grew stronger and completely engulfed the car. The two helplessly looked on as their hopes for a Rally Italia victory burned in front of them.
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Juho Hanninen led the rally at the conclusion of the third stage, but his hopes of a victory were dashed in spectacular fashion soon after when his Hyundai went wheels up and rolled. His teammate Thierry Neuville exited the race around the same time with right-front suspension damage.
Latvala's charge to the top was obviously helped by the attrition, but in just two stages, he went from five seconds adrift of the lead to six seconds ahead of all pursuers. He extended the lead exponentially during the afternoon and as stated earlier, ended the day with a massive 22.4 second advantage. Another 12 seconds back of Ogier was the Citroen of Mads Ostberg. The complete top ten can be seen below.
1. Jari-Matti Latvala - 1hr 49min 09.5s
2. Sebastien Ogier - +22.4s
3. Mads Ostberg - +34.7s
4. Andreas Mikkelsen - +37.7s
5. Robert Kubica - +1m19.3s
6. Elfyn Evans - +1m29.0s
7. Martin Prokop - +1m36.9s
8. Henning Solberg - +1m36.9s
9. Yazeed Al Rajhi - +5m15.8s
10. Nasser Al-Attiyah - +5m19.9s
Tomorrow will consist of four stages, including the daunting 'Mickey's Jump' that is always thrilling for the fans watching.