Hyundai/Michelin’s Sordo wins the day in Sardinia
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 champi...
Ott Tänak secured the 10th win of his world championship career with victory in Finland, ahead of local stars Esapekka Lappi (Citroën/Michelin) and Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota/Michelin). The Estonian’s title rivals Sébastien Ogier (Citroën/Michelin) and Thierry Neuville (Hyundai/Michelin) were fifth and sixth. Skoda/Michelin’s Kalle Rovanperä won his home round of the WRC2 Pro championship.
Rally Finland, the fastest round of the season, has long accustomed us to nail-biting battles at average speeds of around 130kph on the country’s famous forest dirt roads. The classification after SS8 (Urria) illustrated the ferocity of this year’s scrap when Latvala appeared at the top of the order chased by Kris Meeke (Toyota/Michelin), Lappi and Tänak who were equal second, a mere six-tenths of a second adrift. Meanwhile, four of the stages contested up to that point had been won by a margin of just one-tenth!
To have the confidence required to tackle Rally Finland’s notorious blind corners and jumps at speeds in excess of 170kph, the drivers must obviously have total faith in their co-driver, car and tyres, and, once again, both the Michelin LTX Force and Latitude Cross provided them with the necessary grip and steering precision. This time around, the overcast conditions and mild temperatures ranging from 10 to 15°C prompted Michelin’s WRC and WRC2 partners to favour the softer of the two options available to them.
After the fiercely fought opening day, the order opened up a little on Saturday morning when Meeke and Latvala clipped the same rock on SS14. The Briton was forced to retire, but the Finn was able to continue, albeit out of contention for a fourth victory on home soil.
Leg 2 was subsequently dominated by Tänak who pushed home the benefit of a favourable running order to pull gradually clear of Lappi and lay the foundations for his 10th WRC success after posting his 200th stage win (his 170th on Michelin tyres) on the last morning.
The rally also produced a thrilling fight for fourth place which was ultimately pocketed by Andreas Mikkelsen (Hyundai/Michelin), ahead of Sébastien Ogier (Citroën/Michelin). Craig Breen slowed to hand sixth place to his Hyundai/Michelin team-mate Thierry Neuville at the end of the event, while Teemu Suninen was eighth for M-Sport Ford WRT/Michelin.
Rovanperä (Skoda/Michelin) dominated the WRC2 Pro scrap to beat Eric Camilli who was driving the new Ford Fiesta R5 Evo/Michelin. Pierre-Louis Loubet led the WRC2 class until his off on Saturday evening which handed the top prize to Russia’s Nikolay Gryazin (Skoda/Michelin).
The championship returns to asphalt next with Rallye Deutschland on August 22-25.