Hyundai’s Dani Sordo has sensationally won Rally Italia Sardegna after long-time event leader Ott Tanak suffered a power steering failure on the final stage.
All three World Rally Championship title contenders found trouble during the eighth round of the season with Thierry Neuville salvaging sixth position and three Power Stage points, and Sebastien Ogier twice breaking a steering arm on his Citroen.
In the end, Hyundais finished first and third as Andreas Mikkelsen rounded out the podium, with M-Sport Ford’s Elfyn Evans second to Sordo by 13.7s.
Sordo won just Special Stage 8, the second pass through Tergu-Osilo, but was in the lead of the rally when the Friday itinerary was completed a stage later.
However, Tanak went and won all six of Saturday’s special stages to sit 25.9s ahead of the Spaniard on the leaderboard with a day to go.
That advantage was slightly larger again before the 19th and final stage, only for the steering problem to cruel the Estonian and drop him to fifth overall.
“Very early in the final stage, something very strange happened with the steering and basically it was locked,” explained Tanak.
“We were stationary for some time, fighting to get the steering working. Somehow we managed to get going again, but there was a lot of time lost and so was the victory.
“I’m frustrated, but I also feel very sad for the team. Everybody put so much effort in for this event and in the end to lose it in this way is really a shame.”
Sordo was only ninth fastest on the final stage, but that was enough for him to achieve a second career victory.
“This is incredible. I have no words; it’s just an amazing feeling to take my first win for Hyundai and the second WRC win of my career,” he said.
“Of course, I am very sorry for Ott and Toyota to have experienced such bad luck on the Power Stage. At the same time, we knew we had to keep the pressure on in case this sort of situation occurred. I just can’t believe it happened.
“We have been quick and consistent all weekend. There was no chance to beat Ott on outright pace so we just did what we could and avoided mistakes.
“It wasn’t easy but we made it through to the end – and we now have this fantastic victory as a reward.”
Suninen had settled into a likely podium which became second once Tanak had his drama, while Mikkelsen edged the second M-Sport Ford of Elfyn Evans by 0.9s all told by winning the Power Stage.
Tanak’s fifth spot still sees him take over the championship lead by four points due to a challenging weekend for Hyundai’s main man, Neuville, and a shocking outing for Ogier.
Neuville’s hopes were severely dented on Friday when he hit a bank and damaged his i20’s Hyundai’s radiator, then ran long at a junction.
Ogier’s only points were the four he got for finishing second on the Power Stage, having hit a boulder on Friday morning, before breaking another steering arm on the Saturday morning.
The Frenchman has fallen from first to second in the championship, with Neuville another three points behind, and Evans 65 points further back.
Seventh through 10th in the rally were Esapekka Lappi (Citroen), Kris Meeke (Toyota), WRC2 Pro winner Kalle Rovanpera (Skoda), and WRC2 Pro runner-up Jan Kopecky (Skoda).
Jari-Matti Latvala rolled his Toyota and then ran off the road on Friday afternoon but went on to bag two Power Stage points, with the last bonus point going to Evans.
Pierre-Louis Loubet won the WRC2 class in 11th outright in a privately-entered Skoda.
There is now a long break before Rally Finland on August 1-4.
Rally Italia Sardegna: Results (Top 10)
|1||6||D. SORDO||Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT||M||RC1||3:32:27.2|
|2||3||T. SUNINEN||M-Sport Ford World Rally Team||M||RC1||+13.7|
|3||89||A. MIKKELSEN||Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT||M||RC1||+32.6|
|4||33||E. EVANS||M-Sport Ford World Rally Team||M||RC1||+33.5|
|5||8||O. TÄNAK||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT||M||RC1||+1:30.1|
|6||11||T. NEUVILLE||Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT||M||RC1||+2:16.7|
|7||4||E. LAPPI||Citroen Total WRT||M||RC1||+2:59.6|
|8||5||K. MEEKE||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT||M||RC1||+4:40.1|
|9||22||K. ROVANPERÄ||Skoda Motorsport||WRC2Pro||RC2||+8:24.6|
|10||23||J. KOPECKY||Skoda Motorsport||WRC2Pro||RC2||+8:49.2|
Rally Italia Sardegna: Power Stage (Bonus points)
|1||89||Andreas MIKKELSEN||Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT||4:54.0||5|
|2||1||Sébastien OGIER||Citroen Total WRT||+2.0||4|
|3||11||Thierry NEUVILLE||Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT||+4.0||3|
|4||10||Jari-Matti LATVALA||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT||+4.6||2|
|5||33||Elfyn EVANS||M-Sport Ford World Rally Team||+6.7||1|
|21||Ole Christian VEIBY||NOR||2|
|25||Ricardo TRIVINO BUJALIL||MEX||1|
|1||Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT||242|
|2||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT||198|
|3||Citroen Total WRT||170|
|4||M-Sport Ford World Rally Team||152|