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WRC Rally Italy: Ott Tanak takes lead as Hayden Paddon crashes out

Ott Tanak Rally Italy 2017

M-Sport's Ott Tanak consolidated a shock Rally Italy lead on Saturday afternoon, after former leader Hayden Paddon was forced to retire his Hyundai after hitting a bank.

Paddon's car was on fire on the rear-right-hand side after the incident, and despite making it to the end of the Coiluna-Loelle SS13 stage in fourth, he had to retire on the road section afterwards and throw away a 9.4 second lead.

Tanak went quickest on the two following stages - having already topped SS13 following Paddon's crash - and finished second on the final stage of the loop to lengthen his new-found lead to 24.3s over Jari-Matti Latvala's Toyota.

The Finn couldn't match Tanak for raw speed, but could end up closer to the Estonian if he gets his way, with Latvala and his team lobbying the rally organisers to be awarded time back after being caught in the dust of the punctured Mads Ostberg earlier in the day.

Thierry Neuville, who likely would have inherited the lead from Paddon had his brakes not faded on Friday's afternoon loop and dropped down the order, now lies third, 37.9s behind Latvala.

He also has a minute in hand over fourth placed man, Esapekka Lappi, who benefitted from his team-mate Juho Hanninen having a spin and power steering issues during the last stage of the afternoon.

After setting three fastest times in only his second event in a WRC car yesterday - including one without second gear - Lappi added to that by topping the second run of Monte Lerno, just as his team-mate hit trouble, which he capitalised perfectly on and dropped Hanninen to fifth.

Sebastien Ogier is sixth, 44s adrift of Hanninen's Toyota, with the reigning champion and current points leader suffering from understeer in the afternoon and not enjoying his Rally Italy experience so far this weekend.

He does have half a minute in hand over Ostberg, although the Norwegian would have been closer had it not been for an issue with his car pulling in different directions under braking on SS15.

Andreas Mikkelsen's baptism of fire for Citroen continues as he suffered front-diff problems on the last stage of the day to go along with his earlier puncture, but he did round out the top eight.

LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS15:

PosDriverTeamCarGap
1Ott Tanak, M.JarveojaM-Sport World Rally TeamFord2h56m37.3s
2Jari-Matti Latvala, M.AnttilaToyota Gazoo Racing WRCToyota24.3s
3Thierry Neuville, N.GilsoulHyundai MotorsportHyundai1m02.2s
4Esapekka Lappi, J.FermToyota Gazoo Racing WRCToyota2m10.8s
5Juho Hanninen, K.LindstromToyota Gazoo Racing WRCToyota2m42.1s
6Sebastien Ogier, J.IngrassiaM-Sport World Rally TeamFord3m26.1s
7Mads Ostberg, O.FloeneM-Sport World Rally TeamFord3m56.0s
8Andreas Mikkelsen, A.JagerCitroen Total Abu Dhabi WRTCitroen7m47.6s
9Jan Kopecky, P.DreslerSkoda Motorsport IISkoda9m52.9s
10Eric Camilli, B.VeillasM-Sport World Rally TeamFord9m53.8s


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