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WRC Rally Italy

Wrong weather information cost Ogier WRC Sardinia advantage

Sebastien Ogier believes incorrect weather information led to making a wrong call on tyres and set-up that ultimately cost him the Rally Sardinia lead.

The eight-time world rally champion was largely in command during Friday morning’s loop of stages, winning two of the three tests to open up a 16.3s lead over Hyundai’s Esapekka Lappi.

The highlight of the loop was a faultless first run through Monte Lerno (49.9km), where he was 12.7s faster than anyone else.

However, wet weather dominated the afternoon loop which Ogier’s feels caught his Toyota team out leading to a decision to take three soft and three hard tyres. Lappi on the other hand opted for four softs and only one hard.

Across the afternoon, Lappi took chunks out of Ogier’s lead, halving the deficit in stage five, before snatching the lead by 0.1s in the second pass through Monte Lerno.

“It was not the best afternoon but I’m still happy with the driving," four-time Sardinia winner Ogier told Motorsport.com. “It just went wrong at the service where we had the wrong information for the weather and we made the wrong tyre choice and also unfortunately we made the wrong choice with the set-up.

“It is that where I’m not so happy. I thought it was an acceptable afternoon and I was steady and I didn’t take too many risks in these difficult conditions. It is good to be where we are."

Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Looking ahead to Saturday, Ogier is expecting even more wet weather which will put the focus back on tyre and set-up direction.

“I don’t think it will be much drier tomorrow but I don’t know it is difficult to predict, but it doesn’t look like it is going to be dry tomorrow," he added

“We just need to go back to the set-up that we like and make it work. It is the first time that we have had this kind of rain in Sardinia so it doesn’t make it a bit more challenging for sure.”

Ogier appears to be Toyota’s best shot at a victory after an eventful day for world champion Kalle Rovanpera and team-mates Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta.

Rovanpera ended the day fourth, 46.1s adrift after facing the disadvantage of starting first on the road. The Finn also lost time when he came across small herd of cows in stage four, where he lost 40.2s.

However, he managed to leap from seventh overall to fourth across the afternoon which was helped by winning stage seven.

“We only had this big gap to begin with because of the first pass through Monte Lerno but otherwise it has been really good day. Of course it could be always a smaller gap,” Rovanpera said.

“For the win I’m not sure [we are in the fight] but we will fight for everything we can.”

Katsuta will head into Saturday occupying fifth (+47.4s) after losing time to an off in stage four, while Evans ended more than a minute behind after dropping 20s to a front right puncture in stage seven.

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