Ott Tanak overcomes Ogier to win Rally Italia Sardegna

Ott Tanak overcomes Ogier to win Rally Italia Sardegna

Ott Tanak claimed Rally Italia Sardegna victory edging Sebastien Ogier after the eight-time world champion suffered a puncture on the very last stage.

In a dramatic turn of events, Ott Tanak and Martin Jarveloja won WRC Rally Italia Sardegna by 0.2 seconds after long time rally leader Sebastien Ogier picked up a puncture with a couple of kilometres of the Wolf Power Stage remaining.

Hyundai’s main contender for victory in Sardegna had been pushing hard on Sunday morning – but with the focus on beating his team-mate Thierry Neuville to maximum Sunday points, rather than to chase down Ogier for victory.

As the WRC trialled a new shorter 48-hour format for the first time on Sardegna’s rough gravel roads, Tanak put Ogier under pressure through Sunday’s four stages overhauling a 17.1s to snatch a stunning win by 0.2s in the final stage, after Ogier suffered a final stage puncture.

Part-time Hyundai driver Dani Sordo finished third [+2m25.6] after overcoming 16 attritional stages, marking his first podium since the Acropolis Rally in September of last year.

Ogier had a 4.5-second advantage over Tanak going into a lengthy and exciting Saturday that included 149 stage kilometers thanks to his two stage victories from Friday’s revised four-stage schedule.

Tanak took the lead for a brief moment in the first test after Ogier punctured and had to take caution on the rough, uneven roads as there was a high possibility of more punctures after using his only spare. However, a fastest time on the next test put Ogier back in the lead, but it was short-lived as Tanak responded to lead by 3.5s at the end of the morning.

In the afternoon, Ogier took the lead once more while Tanak disclosed that his Hyundai team had instructed him to not push. Thierry Neuville’s incident on stage eight, which caused him to fall from third place, led the Hyundai team to conclude that the additional risk needed to contend for the win was significant.

Ogier established a 17.1-second advantage thanks to the team instruction and a decline in confidence when handling his i20 N. On Sunday, however, Tanak launched a charge spurred by Super Sunday points that forced Ogier to give up, eventually surpassing the 6.2-second deficit in a thrilling finish.

Tanak is now 18 points behind Neuville and tied for second place in the championship with Elfyn Evans.

Sordo had a strong run which moved him up to third in the rankings after Neuville and Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta retired on Saturday. Katsuta had taken over third position when Neuville momentarily lost composure and skidded off the road, while Katsuta retired due to a gearbox problem.

After battling throughout the rally, title contender Evans came in fourth place [+2m37.8s]. His Toyota caused him trouble on Friday, and he was unable to keep up with the leaders’ pace due to a lack of confidence in his car.

The disgruntled Welshman managed to capture fourth place on Saturday, earning 10 points, and picked a further 8 on Sunday after placing third in the Sunday standings and third on the Power Stage.

Championship leader Neuville made a costly exit on Saturday, but he rebounded exceptionally to get the maximum 12 points on Sunday after impressing to sit third on Saturday after starting the race on the road on Friday. He scored five more points after winning the Power Stage and topping the Sunday standings to earn seven points.

Meanwhile, a late throttle problem could not stop Gregoire Munster of M-Sport from finishing a career-best fifth overall. Teammate Adrien Fourmaux finished Sardinia with two points having run as high as third before retiring on Friday due to an alternator problem and puncture.

Sami Pajari finished sixth overall in WRC2, claiming his second victory in the new Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 car. Yohan Rossel, the leader of the WRC2 Championship, overcame a puncture to finish second in class and eighth overall.

Rally Italia Sardegna Results

Leave a Reply