After a very early wakeup, the longest leg of the rally on Saturday started at 5.20 a.m. followed by six special stages totalling more than 142 kilometres. After a 15 kilometres long warm up on special stage number 10, the two longest stages of the event had to be driven. “Monti di Ala” and the especially famous “Monte Lerno” both covered roughly 28 kilometres. Compared to the hot Friday, the temperatures had dropped significantly.
Both ŠKODA crews had a good start into the early Saturday morning with Kalle Rovanperä extending his overnight category lead from 0.6 up to 5.5 seconds ahead of teammate Jan Kopecký. Rovanperä was delighted with his ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo: “We made a lot of set up changes to the car. So now it is a bit softer which gives us more traction.” Reigning WRC 2 Champion Kopecký confessed: “We should not make any mistakes and we want to get to the finish with first and second place in the category for SKODA.”
On the very next stage, Rovanperä grabbed the lead among the R5 cars as well, which are divided into categories WRC 2 Pro and WRC 2. At this point, the latter was still led by ŠKODA privateer Pierre-Louis Loubet, who after the recent Rally Portugal again delivered a stunning performance on gravel.
Both ŠKODA factory crews reached the midday service in Alghero, dominantly leading the WRC 2 Pro category. During the afternoon the crews had to face the three stages of the morning loop again. And the ŠKODA Motorsport crews did well, drove with a controlled speed without taking risks. Rovanperä and Kopecký finished the day as it had begun with a double lead for ŠKODA in the WRC 2 Pro category.
The battle of the WRC 2 category between ŠKODA privateers Pierre-Louis Loubet and Nikolay Gryazin came to an end during the first stage of the morning. Gryazin cut a corner too much, hit a stone and lost the right front wheel of his ŠKODA FABIA R5. Loubet defended the category lead until the day’s last stage, when a puncture relegated him to second.
Sunday will bring the final decision with four stages close to the coast north of the host town of Alghero.
Standings Rally Italia Sardegna after Day 3 (WRC 2 Pro)
Rovanperä/Halttunen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo, 3:11:34.8 h
Kopecký/Dresler (CZE/CZE), ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo, +26.1 sec.
Østberg/Eriksen (NOR/NOR), Citroën C3 R5, +9:43.2 min.
Greensmith/Edmondson (GBR/GBR), Ford Fiesta R5, +1:16:31.5 h.
Number of the day: 9
Going into the final leg of Rally Italia Sardegna, the category lead of the two ŠKODA factory crews from their next WRC 2 Pro competitor stands at more than nine minutes.
The calendar of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2 Pro)
Great Britain 03/10/–06/10/2019