Ott Tanak made no mistake on the final day of Rally Argentina to take a comprehensive victory in Round 5 of the FIA World Rally Championship.
The Estonian bagged his first win for Toyota Gazoo Racing, beating Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville by 37.7s as the Korean manufacturer’s part-timer Danio Sordo completed the podium.
Tanak took a cautious approach to Sunday’s three stages, having already won 10 of the 15 prior stages, but did also pick up two Power Stage points.
“It’s a special one. We never knew what was going to happen with the team change but it’s nice to see how quickly we’re improving,” he said.
“The car is near enough to my liking and it’s a massive boost for a driver if you have the confidence.
“I can’t say it was easy, I was pushing really hard and living on the edge on Friday and Saturday.”
Neuville won the final two stages of the rally and therefore picked up five Power Stage points, putting him 10 points behind championship leader Sebastien Ogier.
Sordo had appeared assured of a podium but for a significant error heading into the final day, and so it was that the Spaniard finished with a 42.9s margin over Ogier.
The M-Sport Ford driver edged Andreas Mikkelsen to fourth position in the rally, and second position in the Power Stage.
Mikkelsen had been quick on the final day, taking his Hyundai through Special Stage 16 with the fastest time before being second-fastest to Neuville on SS17.
Esapekka Lappi’s Toyota suffered a puncture on SS16 which saw the Finn drop from sixth to eighth.
He stayed in that position until the end of the rally behind Elfyn Evans (M-Sport Ford) and Kris Meeke (Citroen), the latter of whom took the final Power Stage point.
Teemu Suninen (M-Sport Ford) finished ninth overall and Pontus Tidemand (Skoda Motorsport) 10th.
Tidemand took WRC 2 honours when team-mate Kalle Rovanpera crashed on the penultimate stage.
Round 6 is Rally de Portugal on May 17-20.
Highlights: Stages 16 and 17
Rally Argentina: Results (Top 10)
|1||8||Ott Tanak||EST||Toyota Gazoo||Yaris WRC||3:43:28.9|
|2||5||Thierry Neuville||BEL||Hyundai||i20 WRC||+37.7|
|3||6||Dani Sordo||ESP||Hyundai||i20 WRC||+1:15.7|
|4||1||Sebastien Ogier||FRA||M-Sport Ford||Fiesta WRC||+1:58.6|
|5||4||Andreas Mikkelsen||NOR||Hyundai||i20 WRC||+2:02.6|
|6||2||Elfyn Evans||GBR||M-Sport Ford||Fiesta WRC||+3:06.3|
|7||10||Kris Meeke||GBR||Citroen||C3 WRC||+3:25.7|
|8||9||Esapekka Lappi||FIN||Toyota Gazoo||Yaris WRC||+4:32.6|
|9||3||Teemu Suninen||FIN||M-Sport Ford||Fiesta WRC||+5:38.6|
|10||31||Pontus Tidemand||SWE||Skoda||Fabia R5||WRC2||+12:15.8|
Rally Argentina: Power Stage (Bonus points)
|1||5||Thierry Neuville||BEL||Hyundai||i20 WRC||13:00.8||5|
|2||1||Sebastien Ogier||FRA||M-Sport Ford||Fiesta WRC||+0.4||4|
|3||4||Andreas Mikkelsen||NOR||Hyundai||i20 WRC||+0.6||3|
|4||8||Ott Tanak||EST||Toyota Gazoo||Yaris WRC||+3.2||2|
|5||10||Kris Meeke||GBR||Citroen||C3 WRC||+3.7||1|
|2||M-Sport Ford WRT||129|
|3||Toyota Gazoo Racing||124|