Rally Italia Sardegna came down to an exciting finale with Sébastien Ogier claiming a podium finish in his Toyota Yaris WRC in third overall after a valiant effort on the final day. Elfyn Evans finished fourth and continues to lead the drivers’ championship, 14 points ahead of his team-mate Ogier and 24 in front of the driver in third.
The Toyota drivers’ positions at the front of the road order on Friday (a consequence of their strong championship placings) made it difficult for them to fight for the rally victory on Sardinia’s sandy gravel roads. After winning four of Saturday’s six stages, Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia came into the final day in second overall, 27.4 seconds behind the leaders. Stage wins in both passes of the Cala Flumini test helped them to close that gap to just 9.2s with one stage remaining. They eventually finished just 6.1s from the winners in third overall, taking another strong points haul towards their bid for a seventh world title.
Having been particularly disadvantaged by opening the road on Friday, fourth place overall also represents a good result for Evans and his co-driver Scott Martin. They focused on securing that position on the final day, increasing their advantage over the car behind to 33s within the day’s first two stages. Both Ogier and Evans claimed additional bonus points towards the championship with the third and fourth best times respectively in the Power Stage.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“It has been a very interesting final day of the rally. Of course, we are a little bit disappointed that the final result did not go our way. Seb did a brilliant job this morning to close the gap to the leader and it was a really exciting battle. The difference in the end was very small after the time that was lost opening the road for the whole of Friday. Considering that, both Seb and Elfyn did a very good job and scored good points for the drivers’ championship, and we can be confident moving onto asphalt for the final events.”
Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 17)
“It’s been very intense for more or less the whole weekend. Of course, at the end, third place maybe doesn’t show the performance that we had here, but that’s how it is. We had to be second on the road for a big part of the rally and a lot of time was lost there. After that it was always going to be difficult. But I think we tried our best and I cannot be disappointed with my performance, I gave everything I had and it’s still solid points for the championship. I’m getting more and more settled in the Yaris WRC and the performance is there. I just need to continue with that and I’m confident about the future.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“Today the main objective was to stay ahead of the driver behind and make sure that position was secure. Unfortunately I didn’t get as many points on the Power Stage as I would have liked, but all in all at least we secured the result and came away with solid points at the end of the weekend. Of course, you always want more than fourth place but we knew coming here starting first on the road was going to be tough, and we were almost out of the fight for the podium by the end of the first day. We continued to push but the times were close and in the end I think fourth was realistically the most we could achieve. Going onto asphalt, being first on the road should normally be an advantage and we’ll be hoping that will be the case.”
PROVISIONAL FINAL RESULT, RALLY ITALIA SARDEGNA
1 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 2h41m37.5s
2 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +5.1s
3 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC) +6.1s
4 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m02.3s
5 Teemu Suninen/Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m33.9s
6 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2m27.5s
7 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +4m43.8s
8 Jari Huttunen/Mikko Lukka (Hyundai i20 R5) +8m41.7s
9 Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Sczecepaniak (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +10m02.9s
10 Pontus Tidemand/Patrik Barth (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +10m20.9s
Retired Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC)
(Results as of 14:00 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Belgium is set to host a round of the WRC for the first time when the Ypres Rally takes place on November 19-22. First held in 1965, the rally is known as a demanding asphalt event on farmland roads lined with ditches. Its WRC debut will also include a final day held around the famous Spa-Francorchamps racing circuit.
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