A Puncture for Sébastien Ogier on the Powerstage Helps Tänak Secure a Dramatic Sardinia Win


In an exhilarating climax to Rally Italy Sardinia, Ott Tänak emerged victorious, narrowly defeating Sébastien Ogier by a mere 0.2 seconds after Ogier suffered a puncture on the final stage. This dramatic turn of events handed the win to Tänak and marked one of the closest finishes in World Rally Championship history.

Hyundai’s main contender, Tänak, had been pushing hard on Sunday morning. His initial focus was on beating teammate Thierry Neuville for maximum Sunday points rather than overtaking Ogier for the overall victory. However, Tänak’s relentless pace brought him closer to Ogier, narrowing the gap to just 6.6 seconds by the start of the powerstage.

The rough conditions of the Sassari powerstage, exacerbated by the second pass, played a crucial role in the race’s outcome. Dani Sordo, who passed through the stage before the leading pair, had ominously remarked, “It’s not finished yet because it’s really bad and really hard on the car.” Sordo’s prediction proved accurate as Ogier sustained a puncture just a few miles from the finish line, losing 6.8 seconds and relinquishing his hopes of a third consecutive WRC win.

Ogier expressed his frustration at the finish line, stating, “Not much I can do. It’s not rally, it’s like cross-country, so not much I can do.”

Dani Sordo secured his 56th career podium finish with third place, keeping Elfyn Evans at bay. Despite pushing hard, Evans couldn’t close the gap, finishing in fourth place. Sordo hinted at an uncertain future in the WRC, saying, “I don’t know if you will see me again. Let’s see. We’ll finish at the moment with the podium and this makes me happy.”

Evans reflected on the tough weekend, acknowledging the need to find his form again for the remainder of the championship. Despite Evans’ struggles, the title race tightened as Neuville crashed out on Saturday but returned on Sunday to secure maximum points, aided by low-hanging dust that hampered his competitors.

Neuville’s recovery saw him gain 12 points, leaving Evans and Tänak tied 18 points behind the championship leader. Grégoire Munster finished fifth, maintaining a steady performance despite a throttle position sensor issue on Sunday morning.

Toyota’s Katsuta aimed for Sunday points after a transmission failure on Saturday but struggled with road conditions, ultimately securing three points. Similarly, Adrien Fourmaux of M-Sport battled car issues on slow sections, finishing with three points from his Sunday efforts.

In WRC2, Sami Pajari claimed his first win of the season, leading the rally for all but one stage. After a disappointing round in Portugal, Pajari’s strong performance in Sardinia showcased his potential. Yohan Rossel’s epic comeback drive secured second place, overcoming a Friday puncture that dropped him to 18th. Despite a fierce challenge from Portugal winner Jan Solans, who settled for third after a powerstage puncture, Rossel maintained his position.

Martin Prokop successfully defended fourth place in WRC2, edging out reigning WRC2 Challenger champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz by 3.9 seconds.

This thrilling rally in Sardinia not only highlighted the skill and resilience of the drivers but also set the stage for an intense battle in the remaining WRC season.

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