Ott Tänak ended a 462-day drought to take victory in Rally Italia Sardegna. The Estonian kept his rhythm from the previous days to beat Ford’s Craig Breen and his Hyundai teammate Dani Sordo.
Tänak enjoyed a quieter day for action, as the remaining drivers looked to bring their cars home and secure the points.
The final day saw the final four stages being conducted including the Wolf Power Stage. The teams will tackle Monte Baranta and Sassari-Argentiera twice with the latter stage being used as the Wolf Power Stage.
Not much movement was made in terms of positions in the standings after SS18. Ott Tänak took the stage win which would mark his 300th stage win in the WRC. Showing no signs of slowing down, Tänak extended his lead over Craig Breen to 49s. This lead would extend to 56.9s on the next test further cementing Tänak’s position at the top.
Craig Breen was also extending his advantage to Dani Sordo, The Irishman had a 24s gap after SS18 and would then maintain it after the next stage. Sordo was looking to bring the car home in the final podium spot by managing his gap to Pierre-Louis Loubet in the second Ford Puma.
Toyota drivers, Kalle Rovanpera and Takamoto Katsuta are far behind after their issues in the previous days but round out the top 6 nonetheless.
SS20 was a similar story, Tänak took another stage win extending his gap to 58.2s over Breen. Breen had the slight edge over Sordo in third with everyone looking to bring their cars home in one piece after a tough Rally.
The Wolf Power Stage saw a different Hyundai at the top of the stage times with Thierry Neuville winning the test and securing valuable points for his campaign. Neuville’s rally once again hadn’t gone to plan but the Belgian made sure to pick up any points on offer to him.
Toyota made up the rest of the top five on the stage with current championship leader, Kalle Rovanpera, heading Elfyn Evans, one-time rally leader Esapekka Lappi and Takamoto Katsuta.
Tänak would only take sixth but that would be more than enough to take victory, ending a 462-day drought since his last win. ‘It’s been very challenging, especially since the beginning of this generation. We are definitely happy, especially for the mechanics – they put in an incredible effort all last year and the beginning of this year. This rally was not easy and they made a good job to keep the car going.’
1m 03s back, Craig Breen would secure second place as the driver and team gained more confidence in the Puma package. “I’m thrilled. It’s been a really good weekend and we’re starting to find our feet. The car is getting better and better – it’s taken a bit of time, but she’s some yoke!”
Dani Sordo would round out the top three but left lamenting that he couldn’t take the fight to Breen. “I am not really happy. I would have liked to fight more with Craig, but he had amazing speed and we struggled with some problems. I didn’t want to make any mistakes for the team and I am here to bring home the points.”
Pierre-Louis Loubet scored his best position so far in fourth place. Rovanpera leaves Italy with the championship lead still after finishing fifth with Katsuta ending the weekend in sixth.
Round six sees the championship head to Kenya for the Safari Rally on 23rd June. Remembered for the epics of the past, the modern form still retains the character and spectacle of old and will be a tough test of not only for the drivers but the new Rally1 machines.