(Reuters) – World champion Sebastien Ogier retired from the Rally of Italy in Sardinia on Friday after hitting a rock and smashing his Citroen’s suspension on the fifth stage.
“Following their impact with a rock, Seb Ogier & (co-driver) Julien Ingrassia were unable to repair the front left suspension,” Citroen principal Pierre Budar said on the team’s Twitter feed.
“Our mechanics will do their best to let them restart tomorrow.”
Ogier led the championship standings going in to Sardinia, two points clear of Toyota’s Estonian Ott Tanak with Belgian Thierry Neuville third and a further eight points adrift in his Hyundai.
The Frenchman, a six-times world champion, had carried a slender overnight lead into Friday’s stages on the island but had slipped behind after losing time as road opener.
He hit the rock less than a kilometre into the stage, damaging the front-left suspension. The champion jacked the car up in the hope of being able to repair the damage but realised it was impossible.
Tanak was in second place, 2.8 seconds behind Finnish team mate Jari-Matti Latvala after stage five.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)