Italy countdown: 2017 rewind
We start our build-up to this year’s Rally Italia Sardegna (7-10 June) by winding back the clock to 2017 as Ott Tänak overcame a late scare in his dust-filled M-Sport Ford Fiesta to claim a maiden WRC victory.
Thursday 8/Friday 9 June
Hayden Paddon battled through a string of problems in his Hyundai i20 – including a broken damper - to lead by 8.2sec after seven stages.
He was the fourth driver to claim the top spot on a day of scorching temperatures, as the top five went into the weekend covered by less than 15sec.
Team-mate Thierry Neuville overcame two punctures to claim second, 1.3sec ahead of Tänak. Jari-Matti Latvala was only 0.3sec behind with Mads Østberg fifth after a failed gamble on a mix of soft and hard tyres in his Fiesta.
Saturday 10 June
An ‘amateur mistake’ from Paddon forced him to retire from first place after clipping a bank, gifting Tänak a 24.3sec lead following a trio of stage wins.
Latvala moved up to second in his Toyota Yaris thanks to a clean run through the day’s rocky roads - only spoiled by losing time caught in Østberg’s dust.
There was drama for Neuville as brake failure on the morning’s final stage cost him one minute, demoting him to third. Brake problems also hindered Esapekka Lappi but he managed to overhaul team-mate Juho Hänninen for fourth. The latter battled with power steering failure on the last stage.
Sunday 11 June
Tänak held on to claim Estonia’s first WRC win since Markko Märtin climbed onto the top step of the podium in Spain in 2004 in a Ford Focus.
There was late drama for the 30-year-old as a hole in the Fiesta’s cockpit filled the car with dust. With his vision severely limited, he overshot a junction on the opening test and skidded into the bushes.
That gave Latvala an outside chance of snatching the win but when he stalled on the next stage, the M-Sport Ford driver’s victory was assured.
Neuville completed the podium, while Lappi was fourth on his second WRC start.
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