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WRC - Tänak controls the field in Sardinia, Sordo is second

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2019 Rally Italia Sardegna - Saturday afternoon

On Saturday afternoon in Sardinia, Toyota’s Ott Tänak confirmed his domination by winning all three stages that made up the loop before returning to service in Alghero.

The Estonian has his sights set on the top spot of the championship table, with just four stages remaining on the itinerary before the rally finish tomorrow. He currently holds a 25.9 second lead after ruling Saturday by setting the fastest time in every stage. For today’s second loop, the tyre choice was a straightforward affair, with all WRC runners taking five hard compound tyres.

The three stages were generally in good conditions, but last night’s leader and tonight’s runner-up – Hyundai driver Dani Sordo – admitted that he was finding it hard to fight with Tänak, who has shown impressive pace since the beginning of the rally, regardless of his road position.

Sordo has an advantageous buffer of 17 seconds over M-Sport Ford driver Teemu Suninen, who is targeting a podium on his first rally with new co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen. The Finn had a clean run throughout the afternoon, finishing in the top three on every stage.

Behind him, the fight for fourth place is much closer. Suninen’s team-mate Elfyn Evans currently holds the position, having set exactly the same time as Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen on SS13, the first stage after the midday service. The Norwegian is only 7.9 seconds behind his rival in a tight battle but couldn’t quite match Evans on today’s final stage, after damaging his tyres.

However, Mikkelsen still remains ahead of his Hyundai team-mate Thierry Neuville. The Belgian had to adapt his driving again after changing some settings on his Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC at midday service but wasn’t able to get a perfect feeling throughout the afternoon.

Citroën’s Esapekka Lappi focused on running steadily through the afternoon in seventh, while Toyota’s Kris Meeke has dropped from sixth to eighth. The Northern Irishman stopped just over nine kilometres into the day’s final stage to change a puncture, which cost him nearly two and a half minutes.

Škoda’s Kalle Rovanperä is in ninth position, also leading the WRC2 Pro category, 26.1 seconds ahead of his team-mate Jan Kopecky, who completes the top 10 overall. Mads Østberg maintains his third position but he is far behind with a large gap of almost ten minutes to his rivals.

In front of the FIA WRC2 class is a new leader: Ford Fiesta R5 driver Takamoto Katsuta, in 12th overall, who moved ahead of Pierre-Louis Loubet when the Frenchman picked up a puncture in SS15. Loubet confessed he is doubtful he can get the lead back but will give everything in the last four stages tomorrow. Kajetan Kajetanowicz is 43.5 seconds behind in third.

Dennis Rådström is on top of the FIA Junior WRC but the Swede has Nil Solans on his heels, just 4.4 seconds behind, heading into the final day. Tom Kristensson is third, with a margin of almost two minutes between him and his leading rivals.


2019 Rally Italia Sardegna - Unofficial Results after Section 5:

1. Ott Tänak (EST) / Martin Järveoja (EST)                         Toyota Yaris WRC3hr 04min 10.3sec
2. Dani Sordo (SPA) / Carlos Del Barrio (SPA)
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC3hr 04min 36.2sec
3. Teemu Suninen (FIN) / Marko Salminen (FIN)Ford Fiesta WRC3hr 04min  53.2sec
4. Elfyn Evans (GBR) / Scott Martin (GBR)Ford Fiesta WRC3hr 05min 35.7sec
5. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) / Anders Jaeger-Amland (NOR)Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC3hr 05min 43.6sec
6. Thierry Neuville (BEL) / Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL)Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC3hrr 06min 42.7sec
7. Esapekka Lappi (FIN) / Janne Ferm (FIN)Citroën C3 WRC3hr 07min 08.6sec
8. Kris Meeke (GBR) / Sebastian Marshall (GBR)Toyota Yaris WRC3hr 08min 03.6sec
9. Kalle Rovanperä (FIN) / Jonne Halttunen (FIN)Škoda Fabia R5 Evo3hr 11min 34.8sec
10. Jan Kopecky (CZE) / Pavel Bresler (CZE)Škoda Fabia R5 Evo3hr 12min 00.9sec