Sordo masters Sardinia's dirt and dust as Ogier crashes out

Alghero (Italy) (AFP) –


Spain's Dani Sordo grabbed the lead on the Rally of Italy on Friday, perfectly mastering the heat and dust on Sardinia as world champion Sebastien Ogier retired.

Sordo, in a Hyundai, carved out a 10.8sec lead over Finland's Teemu Suninen in a Ford with Estonian title hopeful Ott Tanak in third in his Toyota, 11.2sec off the lead.

"It was a hard day with high temperatures inside the cars and for the tyres, but I was on the right pace all the time," said Sordo.

"We had a little bit of an advantage because we started further back. I really want to fight for the victory, but it will be tough to hold off Ott."

Ogier suffered a dramatic early exit after breaking his Citroen's suspension by hitting a rock.

The Frenchman, who has won the last six world titles, led at the start of the day after winning Thursday's opening super special.

But he struggled as the first man out on the roads and slipped to ninth before seeing his race come to a premature end.

Title rival Thierry Neuville of Belgium was still in the race but down in seventh place, almost a minute off the lead in his Hyundai after getting his tyre choice spectacularly wrong.


1. Dani Sordo-Carlos Del Barrio (ESP/Hyundai i20) 1h 36:01.5, 2. Teemu Suninen-Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN/Ford Fiesta) at 10.8, 3. Ott Tanak-Martin Jarveoja (EST/Toyota Yaris) 11.2, 4. Andreas Mikkelsen-Anders Jaeger (NOR/Hyundai i20) 20.2, 5. Elfyn Evans-Scott Martin (GBR/Ford Fiesta) 20.3, 6. Kris Meeke-Sebastian Marshall (GBR/Toyota Yaris) 29.5, 7. Thierry Neuville-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL/Hyundai i20) 57.7, 8. Esapekka Lappi-Janne Ferm (FIN/Citroen C3) 1:03.5, 9. Juho Hanninen-Tomi Tuominen (FIN/Toyota Yaris) 2:38.0, 10. Pierre-Louis Loubet-Vincent Landais (FRA/Pierre-Louis Loubet) 2:50.3

Stage winners: Ogier 1 (SS1), Suninen 3 (SS2, SS3, SS6), Tanak 1 (SS4), Lappi 1 (SS5), Sordo 1 (SS8), Mikkelsen 1 (SS9); stage seven cancelled