Ogier blames dirty boot for crash

Sebastien Ogier’s Rally Italia Sardinia challenge has faltered

Sébastien Ogier has blamed his lead-ending accident on the penultimate leg of Rally Italia Sardegna on a muddy race boot that resulted in his foot slipping on the brake pedal.

The Frenchman was leading round six of the World Rally Championship from Hyundai Motorsport’s Esapekka Lappi by 4.3 seconds prior to Saturday’s penultimate stage when he crashed out on a left hander.

The accident happened not long into the test – approximately 1.4km from the start of the second pass of ‘Erula-Tula’ – when he understeered off the road and into retirement.

His Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 ended up beached on the edge of the road and despite repeated efforts to get it back on to four wheels, the efforts of the Frenchman and his co-driver Vincent Landais proved in vain.

It has since emerged the costly mistake was due to Ogier having to change a tyre prior to tackling the stage after he spotted a slow rear left puncture, which he replaced with a hard compound Pirelli.

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It was a far from ideal situation as the rain had already started to fall at this point, turning dry gravel tracks into muddy tracks – including the area Ogier and Landais had to perform their tyre change in.

“We were missing a bit of pace in the first two stages this morning but we managed to react in the longest and probably most difficult stage,” said Ogier, who was aiming to win on the Mediterranean island for a record breaking fifth time.

“I fought hard to make this time and it was nice to build a bit of a lead after that. Unfortunately, it was then an eventful afternoon for us.

“It started with the issue in a watersplash where we damaged the front of the car. It was a big fight to try and fix that and carry on. Then we had to change a tyre right at the last minute before the third stage, in the mud.

“And when I hit the brake pedal, my foot slipped and we couldn’t make the corner. We have been quite unlucky today, but that’s rallying and we need to put it behind us and look forward.”

Ogier said it was “too late” to correct his error in the stage and this meant the tyres locked up and the engine in his Yaris stalled. “I just stopped one metre too late, otherwise we would have gone back,” he claimed.

Given the damage incurred was largely superficial, Ogier will rejoin the action on Sunday when salvaging a handful of points on the rally-ending Power Stage is sure to be the priority.

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