Tänak jumps to victory in Sardinia by 0.2s

02 junho 2024

Ott Tänak (Hyundai) and Sébastien Ogier (Toyota) fought a thrilling duel for victory in the Rally Italia Sardegna, which ended in favor of the Estonian by 0.2s. Ogier's puncture in the final kilometers of the Power Stage led to the shortest margin of victory in the history of the WRC, on a par with the 2011 Jordan Rally.

As in the Vodafone Rally de Portugal, the sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship once again pitted Sébastien Ogier (Toyota Gazoo Racing) and Ott Tänak (Hyundai Shell Mobis) against each other for the win, with both alternating in first place during Saturday's stage.

Ogier, who led the rally on 12 of the 16 stages of the Italian event, looked to be on course for his third consecutive triumph this season, applying the same ruthless formula of “speed vs management” seen in Portugal and on so many other occasions in his career. Toyota's Frenchman entered the short 7.10 km Power Stage with a 6.2s lead over Tänak, but a puncture in the final kilometers of the rally left the eight-time World Champion in second place... just 0.2s behind Tänak! It was the shortest margin of victory ever in the history of the World Rally Championship, on a par with the difference recorded in the 2011 Jordan Rally, where Ogier beat Jari-Matti Latvala.

With these results, and the retirement of Thierry Neuville (Hyundai Shell Mobis) on Saturday's stage, Tänak moved to within 18 points of the Belgian in the championship and with the same 104 points as Elfyn Evans (Toyota Gazoo Racing).

“From an emotional point of view, of course it's good (to win here), but I also feel very sorry for Séb. It's cruel to lose a win like that and I was in exactly the same position a few years ago,” said Tänak, who in 2019, in this same special, lost the win in Sardinia due to a power steering problem. Now, the Estonian has won for the first time since the Rally of Chile in October last year.

Theatrical coup

Ironically, Ogier had even praised the evolution of Pirelli for this season, after having been a fierce critic of the quality of the Italian tires in the past. The Frenchman narrowly missed out on another impressive victory in this part-time season in the WRC. Behind the Frenchman, veteran Dani Sordo gave Hyundai another podium, but Neuville once again made a compromising mistake when he abandoned on Saturday's stage, when he was third, due to a spin on PE 8.

In the fight for the title, Evans also took the opportunity to get closer to Neuville, although the Welsh Toyota driver didn't get any further than fourth place, having been sixth in Portugal. He was followed by Grégoire Munster (Ford M-Sport) and the best in WRC2, Sami Pajari, who gave Toyota's Rally2 its second consecutive win. Behind the young Finn in WRC2 were Yohan Rossel (Citroën) and Jan Solans (Toyota), while Paraguay's Diego Domínguez (Ford) won again in WRC3 and also in Junior WRC.

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