Safety concerns prompted Ott Tänak to return Sébastien Ogier's forgotten time card to the Frenchman ahead of Sunday afternoon's pulsating finale to Rally Italia Sardegna.
Ogier's co-driver, Julien Ingrassia, mistakenly left the stop control at the end of SS19 without the all-important time card and faced the prospect of not being allowed to start the final Live TV Power Stage.
Ogier could have driven back to the stage finish to reclaim the card, but Tänak feared a potential collision on the narrow link road. Instead he offered to carry it onboard his Toyota Yaris and handed it to the defending world champion at the following regroup.
Explaining his decision, the Toyota Gazoo Racing driver said: “It was a bit of safety I would say. The road was really narrow and there was a marshal running with the time card. I didn’t want to go head-to-head with Ogier coming back to collect it, so it was easier to take it to him.”
Although Tänak's sportsmanship allowed the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team driver to check-in to the final stage, Ogier and Ingrassia were fined €10,000 and handed a suspended points deduction by the stewards after it was deemed they had received outside assistance.
The Estonian, meanwhile, endured a frustrating weekend as a nose-heavy landing in Friday afternoon’s final stage damaged the cooling system on his Yaris WRC, forcing him to retire from third place.
“It was a tough weekend, many lessons learned,” he said. “We need to understand everything – why it was happening and what was happening. Obviously, we need to avoid the same things in the future but generally, the feeling is good. We are very fast, but just need the consistency.”
Tänak restarted the event under Rally 2 and recovered to finish eighth. But he admitted his failure to secure a decent number of points in Sardinia had all but brought an end to his 2018 title challenge. “You never know, but realistically the championship won’t be possible,” he said.