Ott Tanak and navigator Martin Jarveoja claimed their first FIA World Rally Championship victory on Rally Italia Sardegna with their M-Sport Ford Fiesta, becoming the fifth different crew to take wins over seven events with the new generation of World Rally Cars. The Estonians powered through the closing stages to head Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila by 12.3 seconds with Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul coming home in third, nearly a minute further adrift.
In the Drivers’ Championship, Sebastien Ogier continues to top the standings despite finishing down in fifth. Neuville closes the gap to second and Tanak inches into third, one point ahead of Latvala. In the Manufacturers’ Championship, M-Sport continues to lead ahead of Hyundai and Toyota.
Tanak started the day with a 24.3-second advantage but instantly dropped five seconds in the day’s opener when he overshot a junction, because a hole in the car meant dust was pouring into the cockpit. The problem continued but, luckily for the Estonian, Latvala stalled in the second stage and lost all the advantage he’d gained in the opener. Tanak went into the closing stages still with 25.5 seconds in hand to Latvala and was able to drop precious seconds in the Power Stage to claim his first World Rally victory in 73 starts.
“What can I say – it feels good!” said Tanak. “A difficult weekend but the first half of this season has been great. The new car and a strong teammate is making me push hard. I hope it’s the first of many wins. It’s coming together. It looks like we have a strong team all around and in the car too.”
Following the frustration of the stall, Latvala then made another mistake in the Power Stage when the car just wouldn’t turn in on a hairpin, the Finn’s disappointment clear to see after aiming high for the additional points.
Neuville achieved his pre-event objective of finishing on the podium and ahead of championship leader Ogier. Small issues, including a brake problem, probably cost the Belgian victory in Italy, but he nevertheless leaves the island satisfied.
Esapekka Lappi was the revelation of the rally and the young Finn claimed a total of six fastest times in only his second event in the Toyota Yaris WRC. He finished fourth overall ahead of Ogier, who managed to overhaul Juho Hanninen who had more power steering problems today. He dropped to sixth in the final stage.
Mads Ostberg broke the rear suspension in the Power Stage but despite losing over two minutes managed to maintain seventh. Andreas Mikkelsen finished eighth in his debut outing with Citroen Racing, upping the pace today after two days trying different settings.
In the FIA WRC 2 Championship, Jan Kopecky and Pavel Dresler took their first win of the season and won the category by over two minutes to Ole Christian Veiby. The FIA Junior WRC and WRC 3 Championships were won by Nil Solans and Miguel Ibanez, the Spaniards claiming their second victory of the season.
The FIA World Rally Championship contenders now head to Rally Poland (29 June-2 July) for the start of the second half of the season.
Rally Italia Sardegna – Final Unofficial Classification
1. Ott Tanak / Martin Jarveoja, Ford Fiesta WRC, 3hr 25min 15.1sec
2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila, Toyota Yaris WRC, 3hr 25min 27.4sec
3. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, 3hr 26min 22.8sec
4. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm, Toyota Yaris WRC, 3hr 27min 28.0sec
5. Sebastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 3hr 28min 40.4sec
6. Juho Hanninen/Kaj Lindström, Toyota Yaris WRC, 3hr 28min 53.6sec
7. Mads Ostberg / Ola Floene, Ford Fiesta WRC, 3hr 31min 46.9sec
8. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jæger, Citroen C3 WRC, 3hr 33min 22.9sec
9. Eric Camilli / Benjamin Veillas, Ford Fiesta R5, 3hr 36min 30.9sec
10. Jan Kopecky / Pavel Dresler, Škoda Fabia R5, 3hr 36min 30.0sec