See stunning action shots of the World Rally Championship battle for the 2013 Rally Italia Sardegna.
Defeated in Argentina and Greece, Sebastien Ogier was back on top in Sardinia. He led all the way, dodged a stray cow and, like he normally does, also won the Power Stage for three bonus points. Game, set and match.
Second place is the best so far of Thierry Neuville’s WRC career but there was more to it than that. This was by far the most fired up we’ve seen him yet and with two fastest stage times the position was thoroughly deserved.
Mikko Hirvonen was a man under pressure on Saturday morning with his second place under threat from Thierry Neuville. He responded in fine form with the fastest time on the day’s opening stage only for his Citroen to slither off the road into agonising retirement on the next.
Greece winner Jari-Matti Latvala was many people’s favourite for the win in Sardinia, until he suffered a puncture on the first stage. Cue a scintillating comeback drive to finish third. A shame, now he’s much happier with his VW Polo, that he was denied a battle with teammate Sebastien Ogier.
Dani Sordo and Citroen’s DS3 might not be the fastest driver-car combination at the moment but the Spaniard has a canny ability to deliver strong results. Fourth place was made easier when Hirvonen, Ostberg and, right at the end, the chasing Mikkelsen all crashed.
Elfyn Evans only found out he’d be making his debut in a WRC car about ten seconds before the event as a stand-in for the absent Nasser Al-Attiyah. Sixth place overall – just 0.9 seconds in front of Kosciuszko – was a remarkable achievement.
Michael Kosciuszko switched to a Ford Fiesta and the result was a dramatic improvement with seventh overall – his first outright points finish since joining the WRC runners this season.
Andreas Mikkelsen had a 24th birthday to forget. He was on course to catch and pass Citroen’s Dani Sordo for fourth place but binned his VW Polo with just three stages to go.
After leading in Greece Evgeny Novikov was another likely contender for victory but it was all over just seconds into the event when his Ford Fiesta took a corner too quickly and was then destroyed in a ferocious high speed roll. It will probably take the five-week break for his head to clear.
Robert Kubica made it back-to-back victories in the WRC2 class and made it look easy. But that didn’t stop him getting annoyed by being forced to back off because of dust, thrown up by the car in front, hanging in the air.
Yet again Mads Ostberg had to make the most of rejoining under Rally 2 rules with a time penalty, this time after rolling his car on Friday night. Already suffering from a throat infection, he then had to swerve to miss a stray bull but still somehow made it to eighth.