World champion Sebastien Ogier snatched the lead in the Rally of Italy from shock overnight pace-setter Hayden Paddon on Saturday, carving out an advantage of more than two minutes.
The VW Polo driver, who has won the Sardinia race on two occasions, takes a 2min 13.6sec lead into Sunday’s final day over Hyundai driver Paddon.
Norway’s Mads Ostberg, in a Citroen, is 3min 25.6sec off the pace.
Paddon, 28, Hyundai Motorsport’s third driver, had found himself in the lead of a world championship event for the first time on Friday.
But his challenge was undone Saturday — the longest day in the world championship since 2002 — when his car spun, stalled and hit a rock.
“I don’t want to be a drama queen, but when it happened (the collision with the rock) it ripped my heart out,” said Paddon, who is chasing a maiden victory in the world championship.
“We hit a big rock on the driving line and I thought there was no way we could go on. But we strapped it up as best we could.”