Dani Sordo’s 163rd world class start saw the 36-year old Spaniard claim the second WRC win of his career at the 2019 Rally Italia Sardegna, one of the championship’s most punishing tests of tyres. Ott Tänak led until a power-steering problem delayed him on the week’s final stage, which allowed Teemu Suninen (Ford/Michelin) and Andreas Mikkelsen (Hyundai/Michelin) to clinch second and third places. Kalle Rovanperä (Skoda/Michelin) topped the WRC2 Pro order once again.
Round 8 of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship produced plenty of drama and surprises ahead of the summer recess.
Friday morning’s SS5, for example, saw the provisional championship leader Sébastien Ogier (Citroën/Michelin) clout a rock and break his suspension and he suffered the same fate the following day. Despite these setbacks, the six-time champion battled on to salvage four points on the Power Stage.
Meanwhile, the rally’s final test brought Tänak’s fine performance to a cruel conclusion when he suffered power-steering gremlins. Up to that point, the Estonian had overcome the handicap of running amongst the first drivers on the road on Day 1 to stay on Sordo’s heels at the sharp end, before emerging in front on Saturday afternoon.
Going into the 14.06km Power Stage, his lead stood at 26.7 seconds and he appeared to be cruising to his fourth win of the season when the steering of his Toyota Yaris WRC/Michelin decided otherwise…
Tänak completed the rally in fifth place, behind Elfyn Evans (Ford/Michelin) who was passed by Mikkelsen on the last stage.
Suninen turned out to be one of the stars of the week, helped by a favourable running order on Friday when he appeared in front thanks to a tally of three fastest times. He ended up second overall which is his best-ever result at WRC level to date.
The surprise winner of the 2019 Rally Italia Sardegna was Sordo who inherited his first victory since the 2013 Rallye Deutschland, and the first of his career on dirt.
WRC action will resume in Finland at the end of July after a short summer break with Tänak on top of the Drivers’ standings, four points clear of Ogier and seven points ahead of Thierry Neuville who had to settle for sixth spot in Italy.
2019 Rally Italia Sardegna – Final positions:
1. Sordo/Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC), 3h22m27.2s
2. Suninen/Lethinen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC), +13.7s
3. Mikkelsen/Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC), +32.6s
4. Evans/Martin (Ford Fiesta RS WRC), +33.5s
5. Tänak/Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC), +1m30.1s
6. Neuville/Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC), +2m16.7s
7. Lappi/Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC), +2m56.9s
8. Meeke/Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC), +4m40.1s
9. Rovanperä/Halttunen (Skoda Fabia R5 Evo), +8m24.6s (1
10. Kopecky/Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5 Evo), +8m49.2s