Rally Italia Sardegna 2022 – Sunday review
Ott Tänak ended his long search for another FIA World Rally Championship victory with a convincing victory at Rally Italia Sardegna on Sunday afternoon.
The Hyundai Motorsport driver was in dominant form on the rocky roads of the Mediterranean island and brought his i20 N Rally1 hybrid car 1min 3.2s ahead of M-Sport Ford driver Craig Breen.
Tänak’s victory in the fifth round of the championship was certainly long overdue. The last time he stood on the top step of the podium was at Arctic Rally Finland in 2021, 462 days ago. Since then he has struggled to find winning form in rallying and has struggled with mechanical issues.
The Estonian was on the pace from the start and traded the lead with GR rider Yaris Esapekka Lappi in Friday’s shortened opening round. A transmission problem during the final explosion left him with only three-wheel drive and he trailed the Finn by 0.7 seconds overnight.
The stage was set for a thrilling battle during Saturday’s marathon stage, which took place in the Monte Acuto area with no midday service.
However, the fight took place just 10.4km from the first Tempio Pausania test when Lappi’s car bounced back from a hard squeeze and bounced into a rock which ripped off the left rear wheel and suspension components.
Lappi’s demise left Tänak on top and he won six of Saturday’s seven speed tests, taking a big advantage on the final stage despite insisting he wasn’t pushing. He then managed to go through the last four stages and claim a 15th career victory.
“It has been very difficult, especially since the beginning of this [hybrid] generation,” Tänak said.
“We are really very happy, especially for the mechanics – they have put in an incredible effort all last year and the start of this year. This rally has not been easy and they have done a good job of getting the car.
“We made good steps. In Portugal we were really struggling and we managed to improve. Without a doubt, if the confidence is there, we can do a good job. We just have to keep working,” said he added.
Breen was thrilled to get his best result for M-Sport Ford. The Irishman finished just inside the top five on Friday after a spin and an overtake, but dropped to second shortly after when teammate Pierre-Louis Loubet punctured a front left tire.
He came under pressure from Dani Sordo before signing a handful of top three finishes on Saturday to close the gap to his Spanish rival.
Sordo, always the sure pair of hands, finally completed the podium 29.8 seconds behind. He struggled to find a comfortable setup at the start of the rally, but incremental improvements unlocked more pace from his i20 N and a water splash stall on SS16 was his only real hurdle on the trail. road.
Pierre-Louis Loubet brought his Puma back 36.4 seconds to score a career-best fourth overall. He took a mature approach after the puncture, showing pace when needed but also comfortably managing the gap to Kalle Rovanperä, who finished 53.4 seconds behind.
Rovanperä was the highest placed Toyota with a fifth place finish in what was a disappointing event for the team.
He had the dubious task of opening the road on Friday and initially languished in eighth after struggling for traction on the loose, dusty surface, but better road position on Saturday helped him climb in order .
The Finn was able to edge his Yaris colleague Takamoto Katsuta, who finished sixth, as well as Adrien Fourmaux, who crashed on SS17, and he now leads the championship with 55 points.
Gus Greensmith was seventh after a frustrating weekend. The Briton passed a right-hander on Friday and lost around two minutes while fumbling to get his Puma going again. After that he focused on getting the car home and testing different setups.
Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville managed to salvage five points with the Wolf Power Stage win after rolling his i20 N out of the race on Saturday. Elfyn Evans also had a rally to forget after dropping out on Friday and Saturday.
The rest of the classification in Italy was made up of cars from the assistance category. FIA WRC2 winner Nikolay Gryazin (Toksport WRT2) edged out Jan Solans and Jari Huttunen (M-Sport Ford WRT), who completed the top ten.
The Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo driver took the lead in Saturday morning’s final test when defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen was forced to withdraw his identical Fabia from the lead due to engine problems. By the end of the day Gryazin had developed a comfortable 44.9 second lead over Jan Solans.
This gap allowed him to relax on Sunday morning and focus on making no mistakes. He eventually won by 28.0 seconds and finished eighth overall, with Solans remaining his closest challenger.
Solans also finished the weekend with his best result in WRC2 while bringing his Citroën C3 Rally2 to just 5.1 seconds behind him in the epic battle for third place.
Czech Jan Černý was given a lifeline to take victory in the FIA WRC3 in a Ford Fiesta Rally3 after overnight leader Diego Dominguez of Paraguay failed to restart on Sunday morning due to a mechanical problem. Zoltán László was the only other finisher in the exhausted field as Enrico Brazzoli was also forced to retire on Saturday. He finished more than six minutes behind.
Černý’s win moved him from seventh to second in the championship standings, where he is now level with Lauri Joona and Lászlo.
Victory in the FIA WRC2 Masters Cup went to Belgian Freddy Loix in a Škoda Fabia Evo.
The championship reaches its midpoint with a much-anticipated visit to Africa next month. The legendary Safari Rally Kenya is based in Naivasha from June 23-26.
The unofficial final results of Rally Italia Sardegna can be viewed here.