WRC Sardinia: Dominant Tanak ends victory drought, Rovanpera fifth

Published: 15, Jun 2022

The 2019 world champion personal nine of the 21 stages wideness four gruelling days, navigating through Sardinia’s famous rough gravel stages in scorching temperatures to score his first win since last February\'s Arctic Rally Finland by 1m03.2s from M-Sport Ford suburbanite Craig Breen.

Following Elfyn Evans’s early exit from the lead due to a water leak on Friday, Tanak became embroiled in a fight with Toyota’s Esapekka Lappi. Tanak transiently personal the lead without Stage 4, surpassing dropping 0.7s roaming of the Finn heading into Saturday.

Tanak was handed a slice of good fortune as Friday’s final two stages were cancelled moments without picking up transmission issue that was set to forfeit him valuable time. That reprieve unliable Hyundai to resolve the issue.

Armed with a healthy i20 N on Saturday, Tanak won six of the next eight stages to reuse the lead. His tuition was moreover helped once Lappi crashed out of the lead on Saturday morning.

Once ahead, Tanak cruised to victory on Sunday, securing Hyundai’s first win of the season without a difficult year plagued by reliability issues with its hybrid i20 N.   

Breen emerged as Tanak’s nearest challenger as the Irishman produced his weightier momentum of the season to stage to requirement his second podium of the season, equalling his career weightier result in the WRC.

Hyundai enjoyed a double podium as Dani Sordo personal third for the second rally in succession, at an event he has twice been a winner, as he finished 1m33.0s roaming of team-mate Tanak. 

The Spaniard, competing in only his second event of 2022 in the third car he shares with Oliver Solberg, used his wits to navigate through difficult conditions to well-constructed a solid points haul for Hyundai.  

M-Sport’s Pierre-Louis Loubet delivered his weightier performance to stage in the WRC’s top flight to finish fourth. The Frenchman had initially fronted M-Sport’s tuition and ran as upper as third, surpassing dropping lanugo to fifth when he suffered a puncture. 

Loubet rebounded to fourth pursuit Lappi’s exit, bettering his previous weightier result of seventh achieved at Estonia last year and Sardinia in 2020.  

Championship-leader Rovanpera crush sensibly to finish fifth without a tough opening day of sweeping the roads

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Championship leader Kalle Rovanpera was unable to repeat the heroics of winning from first on the road in Croatia and Portugal, as the Finn struggled for pace cleaning the gravel roads, ending Friday increasingly than a minute adrift.

The Toyota suburbanite crush sensibly thereafter and benefitted from trouble for his rivals, including a rally ending crash for M-Sport’s Adrien Fourmaux on Saturday night, to requirement fifth. The result, plus four bonus points from the powerstage, has extended his championship lead to 55 points over Thierry Neuville.

Toyota team-mate Takamoto Katsuta survived the inclement conditions to finish sixth without having to nurse a damaged radiator on Saturday. 

M-Sport’s Gus Greensmith, who lost two minutes on Stage 3 struggling to re-fire his Puma without a half spin, completed the Rally1 field in seventh. 

Hyundai’s Neuville managed to salvage the maximum five bonus points from the rally-ending powerstage without flipside difficult weekend. 

Starting second on the road, the Belgian led the rally without Thursday’s super special but lost 15s due to hanging pebbles on Friday’s Stage 2, caused by reduced time intervals between the cars. 

A transmission issue then forfeit him two minutes as he battled with his I20 N that had lost momentum to the rear wheels. Well roaming of the pack, Neuville charged on Saturday to make up ground but that came to halt when he rolled the i20 N on Stage 12, which put him out of the event until Sunday. 

Following his early exit, Evans was flipside suburbanite to snare three points on the powerstage without rejoining the whoopee on Sunday, pursuit a rear suspension failure on Saturday. 

Lappi moreover returned to whoopee on Sunday, ending the rally with two championship points from the final stage.