Italy debrief: part 2

We present our second instalment of highs and lows from Rally Italia Sardegna.

Save of the rally
Starting Sunday's leg with a rally lead of 24.2sec, Ott Tänak [above right] was looking good for his first win. But on his first pass through the day's opener, Cala Flumini, he got a massive scare.

Bothered by clouds of dust in the cockpit, he missed a junction and nosed his Fiesta into the undergrowth. Regaining the road cost him six seconds, and visibility continued to be a problem as the car sucked in more and more of Sardinia.

Worse still, his hiccup gave the chasing Jari-Matti Latvala extra reason to attack. Was Tanak's WRC dream going up in dust? Well, no. In the most trying of circumstances, he kept an ice-cool head, fixed the hole, drove to the finish and breathed a massive sigh of relief. Nicely done.

You'll never believe it
Esapekka Lappi has already made our Italy honours list as 'surprise of the rally', but he gets another mention here for his performance on stage five, when he claimed the fastest time despite his Toyota missing second gear.

Understandably chuffed by his achievement, at the stage end Lappi recalled a similar situation more than a decade ago when Marcus Grönholm sent a message to his Peugeot team boss Corrado Provera.

Lappi said: "I was reminded of that famous thing that Marcus told Corrado: 'I only need three gears anyway.' You can tell [Toyota boss] Tommi [Mäkinen] from me that I only need five!" 

One to forget
A roll in stage seven was another disaster for Kris Meeke who started the rally desperate to turn around his miserable season so far. Instead, Sardinia became part of the problem.

The Northern Irishman has scored points in just two of the seven rallies this year and apart from his win in Mexico and an engine failure while leading in Corsica, he has crashed in every other event.

Citroën has since announced that Meeke will be replaced by ex-Volkswagen driver Andreas Mikkelsen in Poland. "This break will give him a chance to recharge his batteries and release some of the pressure before Rally Finland." said team boss Yves Matton.

Quote of the rally
Jari-Matti Latvala was incensed at being stuck in Mad's Østberg's dust through stage 12 and issued a dramatic threat in case organisers did not adjust his time to compensate. "If I don't get the time back here, when I am in his dust and fighting so hard, then I will stop this sport!" he said.

The time was not adjusted, but by the end of the rally Latvala admitted he had got a bit carried away. "I would not really want to stop now when things are looking good. I must apologise for my words but you have to understand that there is lots of passion for this sport and I want to do well so this is why I was a bit frustrated. Sorry about that."

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