Rally Italia Sardegna 2022: Hyundai and Tänak claim their first victory in the (hybrid) season

Fifth time lucky, Ott Tänak is finally been able to celebrate a very long-awaited success. After a disappointing start to the season, the Estonian has won the Rally Itaila Sardegna 2022 with ease while gifting Hyundai its elusive first victory of the season and of the hybrid era which commenced in Monte-Carlo.

The 2019 WRC champion from Kärla has defeated an outstanding Craig Breen (M-Sport) for the gold by one minute, three seconds and two-tenths of a second. Not any less noteworthy was Dani Sordo’s (Hyundai) third place at one minute and thirty-three seconds behind the winner.

The Spaniard, very comfortable in Sardinia, has repeated the result achieved two weeks ago in Portugal. Considering this was only his second race of the year with a not-so-familiar i20 N Rally1, Sordo has put in a strong drive, fending off Motor-Sport´s Pierre-Louis Loubet (fourth) for over a minute. 

The Frenchman from M-Sport, who continues to reveal glimpses of his talent, preceded a tepid Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota). The current leader of the World Championship has disappointed fans at the Rally Sardinia 2022 with an anonymous run, despite driving the best classified GR Yaris. 
The hostile Mediterranean round has broken the Scandinavian’s three-race long winning streak (Croatia, Sweden & Portugal). His last two appearances on the Mediterranean island ended in abandonment. 

Despite his colourless fifth place this weekend, Rovanperä remains comfortably installed at the top of the standings. He has even managed to stretch his lead, with second classified Thierry Neuville (Hyundia) having to leave on Saturday, although he was able to re-join the action later on. 

As a matter of fact, Rovanperä leads the overall with 120 points, 55 more than the Belgian from Hyundai (65). And the bleeding was not greater because Neuville was awarded the five points by winning the ‘power stage’, so he has ‘only’ left nine with the Nordic in this test. For his part, Tänak has climbed to third place in the table by accumulating 62 points, 58 from the top.

At the team level, Hyundai’s  Tänak and Sordo 1-2 at the Rally Sardinia 2022 shines even brighter against Toyota’s underwhelming performance. The second semi-private missile of Japanese Takamoto Katsuta only made it to sixth place. Evans, for his part, has fared even worse than teammate Rovanperä. The Welshman had to retire on Friday following an accident, mortally wounding his title bid. 

A peaceful Sunday for Tänak

Tänak started Sunday with a whopping 46-second lead over Breen. Considering the blistering pace set by the Estonian driver, it was clear that nobody was gonna be able to recover that distance. Tänak even allowed himself the luxury of opening another 17 seconds with his pursuer on Sunday and winning the first and penultimate sections. 

In the final four sections, Tänak just had to manage his advantage and cruise leisurely to victory. As hard as he tried, the Briton was unable to catch up with the winner. The 2019 World Champion has climbed to the top of the podium again after his last victory -fifteenth of his career- at the Arctic-Finland Rally, more than a year ago. 

Tänak reclaimed the lead from Saturday to the end

The fate of the chaotic rally was decided on Saturday. After the crash and subsequent abandonment of the previous leader, Esapekka Lappi (Toyota) took the lead in the first stage. From that moment on, the Estonian hurricane went on a devastating winning streak, taking six of the eight sections. Only Breen was able to fight two sections off for himself. 

With this display of authority Tänak reclaimed the lead he had sustained during Friday’s stages 4, 5 and 6 against Lappi. His portentous display of strength left little doubt as to what the outcome of the Rally Sardinia 2022 was going to be. 

 Rally Itaila Sardegna 2022: Hyundai Motorsport.

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