JYVÄSKYLÄ, Finland: World championship leader Sébastien Ogier suffered a setback in the Rally of Finland on Friday (Saturday in Manila), failing to finish the first full day of racing because of a broken suspension.
The reigning four-time world champion and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia were taken to hospital for tests after their Ford Fiesta went off the road on the fourth stage.
“There was a big jump that we negotiated a bit too tight. The landing was quite violent and the rear shocks didn’t take the impact,” explained Ogier.
“We’re a little stunned but nothing serious. I’m more or less okay, Julien is a little shocked and he needs time to recover completely.”
Depending on Ingrassia’s recovery the pair will return either Saturday or Sunday to try and gain points in the power stage.
“It’s the best we can hope for this weekend,” added the 33-year-old Ogier, winner in Finland in 2013 and runner-up three times.
New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon also failed to finish the day after the Hyundai driver broke his suspension on SS4.
Ogier’s Estonian teammate Ott Tänak had been leading until SS4 but lost ground after a stone damaged a wheel on his M-Sport Ford.
Finns dominated the day, the longest on the world championship schedule, with Toyota’s Esapekka Lappi leading at the end of the 12 stages.
The 26-year-old, who had never before led a world championship rally in his career, has a 4.4sec advantage over teammate Jari-Matti Latvala.
Teemu Suninen, in a Ford Fiesta, is 19sec off the pace.
Belgian Thierry Neuville, second behind Ogier in the world standings, failed to profit from his rival’s misfortune as the Hyundai driver trailed in eighth place, 58sec behind the leader.