WRC – Tänak Shines On Rally Sardinia’s Opener

Wrc – Tänak Shines On Rally Sardinia’s Opener

Ott Tänak delivered a near-perfect performance to lead Hyundai Motorsport team-mate Dani Sordo after Friday’s punishing opening leg at Rally Italia Sardegna.

Tänak won five of the eight sun-kissed and rocky speed tests in his i20 World Rally Car to build a handy 19.0sec advantage over his Spanish colleague in this fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

After dominating the previous round in Portugal only to retire from the lead, the Estonian was fastest out of the blocks on the Mediterranean holiday island. He won all four morning speed tests to lead by 16.9sec.

A fifth straight win was followed by a brace of second fastest times. His only blot on the day was a delaminated front left tyre in the closing test, which cost a handful of seconds.

Sordo, chasing a third consecutive Sardinia success, was hampered by minor problems this morning but hit top form later. He traded places with championship leader Sébastien Ogier before reeling off three fastest times to end the day 16.8sec clear of the Frenchman’s Toyota Yaris.

Ogier was delighted with his drive. Expecting a day of damage limitation after starting first on sandy roads where grip was at its lowest, he briefly held second but was unable to match the Hyundais and ended 36.2sec off the lead.

Elfyn Evans ended a frustrating day in fourth in his Yaris. The Welshman was out of sorts this morning and languished in sixth, but better pace this afternoon enabled the winner of the previous round in Portugal to recover. He ended more than a minute adrift of Tänak.

Thierry Neuville was another to struggle this morning. Set-up changes had a positive effect and the Belgian ended on a high, sharing fastest time in the final stage with team-mate Sordo. Two punctures didn’t help his efforts, but he was only 1.2sec behind Evans.

Sixth went the way of Takamoto Katsuta. The Japanese driver stalled his Yaris’ engine three times but held a comfortable advantage over FIA WRC2 leader Mads Østberg in his TRT World Rally Team-run Citroën C3. Class rival Jari Huttunen was eighth in his Hyundai NG i20, ahead of FIA WRC3 leader Yohan Rossel in his Citroën C3 and WRC2 contender Marco Bulacia (Toksport Škoda Fabia Evo).

Kalle Rovanperä was initially Tänak’s closest challenger but the Finn retired his Yaris with broken front right suspension in this morning’s final stage.

It was a disappointing day for M-Sport Ford. Teemu Suninen retired in the opening stage after tipping his Fiesta onto its side, while Gus Greensmith retired from seventh in the last stage with transmission troubles. Brake problems cost Pierre-Louis Loubet more than three minutes and he was 11th in an i20.

Saturday is the longest leg with 129.62km of competition. The morning features a double pass of two stages in the Monte Lerno area, including the breathtaking Micky’s Jump. After service, two afternoon tests, which are also driven twice, include one not used since 2005.


2021 Rally Italia Sardegna – Provisional Results after Section 5:

1. Ott Tänak (EST) / Martin Järveoja (EST) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 1 hr 26min 58.0sec
2. Dani Sordo (ESP) / Borja Rozada (ESP) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 1 hr 27min 17.4sec
3. Sébastien Ogier (FRA) / Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Toyota Yaris WRC 1 hr 27min 34.2sec
4. Elfyn Evans (GBR) / Scott Martin (GBR) Toyota Yaris WRC 1 hr 28min 00.0sec
5. Thierry Neuville (BEL) / Martin Wydaeghe (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 1 hr 28min 01.2sec
6. Takamoto Katsuta (JAP) / Daniel Barritt (GBR) Toyota Yaris WRC 1 hr 28min 24.1sec
7. Mads Ostberg (NOR) / Torsten Eriksen (NOR) – WRC2 Citroën C3 1 hr 30min 39.7sec
8. Jari Huttunen (FIN) / Mikko Lukka (FIN) – WRC2 Hyundai NG i20 1 hr 31min 06.7sec
9. Yohan Rossel (FRA) / Alexandre Coria (FRA) – WRC3 Citroën C3 1 hr 31min 33.8sec
10. P. Lopez (ESP) / D. Vallejo (ESP) – WRC3 Škoda Fabia Evo 1 hr 31min 50.1sec

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