Fri 26 May 2023

Rally Rewind: Italy 2022

We begin our build-up to Rally Italia Sardegna (1 - 4 June) by recalling our top five moments from last year’s dramatic encounter.

1. Tänak’s triumph
It had been 462 days. That’s one year and 97 days between Ott Tänak standing atop the podium at Arctic Rally Finland and returning there in Italy.

The Estonian traded times with then Toyota Gazoo Racing driver Esapekka Lappi throughout a typically hot and dusty opening leg but trailed the Finn overnight after a late transmission issue left his Hyundai with only three-wheel drive.

When Lappi crashed out of contention early on Saturday (see below), Tänak’s chains were released and he went on to record fastest times on six of the day’s seven stages, building a comfortable lead which he then managed to perfection through Sunday.

2. Heartbreak for Lappi
Tänak’s treasure was Lappi’s loss. What seemed to be a dream maiden gravel outing aboard Toyota’s GR Yaris quickly turned sour for the Finn in Tempio Pausania.

After rebounding out of a heavy compression, the rear end of Lappi’s car pinballed between big rocks on both sides of the road. The final impact - which struck the rear-left corner - ripped off the wheel and surrounding suspension components.

With broken parts scattered across the stage, Lappi’s Italian adventure was over.

WATCH: Lappi's crash, Rally Italia Sardegna 2022

3. Neuville’s frustrations
Tempio Pausania not only delivered the final blow for Lappi, but also for Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville.

Neuville grabbed the rally lead after winning Thursday evening’s super special, although that became irrelevant when he nursed a time-consuming transmission issue through Friday’s morning loop.

Eager to haul himself up from eighth overall on Saturday, the Belgian came a cropper when he rolled partway through the second pass of Tempio Pausania. He and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe displayed a never-say-die approach by trying to continue, however, the damage was too severe.

4. Mikkelsen’s engine mystery
Andreas Mikkelsen’s retirement whilst leading the WRC2 category was, ultimately, a major blow to the Norwegian’s title bid.

His Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo suffered terminal engine failure on the penultimate day, an issue almost identical to the one he had faced at the previous round in Portugal.

Despite Škoda’s engineers conducting a thorough investigation after the rally, it was unfortunately too late to salvage Mikkelsen's championship hopes. With two non-scores already to his name, he was fighting an uphill battle.

5. Not Elfyn’s weekend
There are some rallies where nothing seems to go to plan. Last year in Italy, that was the case for Toyota’s Elfyn Evans.

Things just didn’t fall into place for the Welshman, who retired on day one with a leaking radiator. After rejoining the action on Saturday, he pulled over once more - this time with suspension damage.

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM