Tänak Snatches Rally Italia Sardegna Win From Ogier In Joint-Closest WRC Finish

Tänak Snatches Rally Italia Sardegna Win From Ogier In Joint-Closest WRC Finish

Ogier finishes 0.2sec behind after heartbreak in Rally Italia Sardegna’s final stage on Sunday.

Ott Tänak claimed a shock victory at Rally Italia Sardegna on Sunday afternoon after late agony for long-time leader Sébastien Ogier.

The Estonian, driving a Hyundai i20 N, celebrated his maiden success of the season when a damaged tyre in the final rough road speed test denied Ogier a third consecutive FIA World Rally Champonship victory.

Having traded blows with Tänak early in the rally, Ogier led since Saturday afternoon in his Toyota GR Yaris. The Frenchman began the rally-closing Wolf Power Stage with a 6.2sec advantage but ended 0.2sec behind after the deflation slowed him in the closing kilometres.

“There is not much I can do,” he said. “That’s life. I think we deserved more than that but at least Ott has done a good rally as well.”

Today marks the joint-closest finish in WRC history, matching the result of Rally Jordan in 2011. On that occasion, Ogier was on the other side of the ledger and held off his now team boss Jari-Matti Latvala.

Tänak, who scored his previous win in Chile last year, was humble in victory. He faced similar heartbreak on the very same stage in 2019 when a power steering failure cost him a guaranteed win.

“For the emotion it’s good, but obviously I am very sorry for Seb. To lose a win like this is cruel and I’ve been in exactly the same position myself a couple of years ago.”

Dani Sordo made it two Hyundai cars in the top three, helping the Korean marque to remain in the lead of the manufacturers’ championship. The 41-year-old was initially out of sorts but climbed the order as drivers ahead of him hit trouble.

One of those drivers was his team-mate Thierry Neuville, whose podium bid went awry when he slid off the road on SS8. Neuville’s consolation was that he claimed the full 12 points from Super Sunday and retained the driver’s series lead.

Elfyn Evans’ feeling inside his GR Yaris was not optimal for the rough gravel roads but, while he ended almost three minutes back from the lead in fourth, the Welshman did succeed in reducing Neuville’s buffer from 24 to 18 points. He and Tänak now sit on identical scores.

Consistency rewarded Puma youngster Grégoire Munster with a fifth-place finish. His M-Sport Ford team-mate Adrien Fourmaux ran as high as third early in the rally before retiring in Friday’s final test with an electrical fault.

Such was the level of attrition that WRC2 machinery filled the remaining top 10 positions, with Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 driver Sami Pajari claiming the WRC2 win and sixth overall. Behind him were Yohan Rossel, Jan Solans, Martin Prokop and Kajetan Kajetanowicz.

High-speed action awaits the WRC drivers at ORLEN 80th Rally Poland later this month. The gravel event returns to the series for the first time since 2017 and takes place from 27 – 30 June.

Overall classification:
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 N 3h 06m 5.6s
2. S Ogier / V Landais FRA Toyota GR Yaris +0.2s
3. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 N +2m 25.8s
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +2m 37.8s
5. G Munster / L Louka LUX Ford Puma +6m 42.9s
6. S Pajari / E Mälkönen FIN Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 +7m 13.4s

Drivers’ Championship standings (after round 6 of 13):
1. T Neuville 122
2. O Tänak 104
3. E Evans 104

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