Another World Rally Championship round is done and dusted, and we now have five weeks to wait until we’re back out rallying again in Belgium.
But we weren’t going to let Rally Italy pass and not ask our ‘Voice of Rally’ Colin Clark to rate the driver’s performances on what was another thrilling WRC encounter.
Dani Sordo 9/10
Rally Italy result: 1st
Sordo won here in Sardinia last year but on that occasion the victory was handed to him when the steering on Ott Tänak’s Toyota failed on the final stage. This time round, Sordo won entirely on his own merits. Used the advantage that his road position on Friday gave him to build a decent lead then went about making sure he managed that lead through a demanding Saturday and Sunday. Always one of the most popular winners in the service park, Sordo has now surely well and truly shaken off that “Tarmac specialist’ tag.
Thierry Neuville 8/10
Rally Italy result: 2nd
Like Sordo, Neuville always seems to go well here in Sardinia having won the event twice in the past. Once again got himself involved in a tremendous scrap with Ogier that went right down to the wire. At the end of the day, Neuville’s title hopes really relied on maximum points here but finishing ahead of all his championship rivals still keeps the dream alive – just. Disappointed not to have won but can’t be disappointed with the quality of the drive and the fighting spirit shown.
Ott Tänak 5/10
Rally Italy result: 6th
Once again badly let down by technical issues with his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. That’s two rallies in a row now where Tänak’s plans have been scuppered early on by unreliability issues as his stop-start first season with Hyundai continues. Kept his increasingly thin chances of defending his title just about alive with a determined drive through the powerstage to pick up five valuable points.
Pierre-Louis Loubet 5/10
Rally Italy result: 7th
Kept his car on the road and for the most part away from the walls and ditches in what was at times a messy performance from the young Frenchman. Looking to up his pace on an event he knows well was always going to be challenging in only his third outing at the top level in his Hyundai WRC. He had a fair go at times and knocked off a considerable amount of aero along the way but didn’t manage to find any consistency over the weekend. Definite positives to take away though for the improving youngster and he shouldn’t feel too disappointed with his efforts.
Toyota Gazoo Racing
Sébastien Ogier 8/10
Rally Italy result: 3rd
Second on the road on Friday with four stages to clean more or less sealed the Frenchman’s fate here in Sardinia. He stuck to the task manfully – no one has more experience of road cleaning – but the win was never really on here for Ogier. With that in mind, he has to be pleased with his haul of points and the fact that he’s closed the gap on championship leader Evans to 14 points.
Elfyn Evans 7/10
Rally Italy result: 4th
First time opening the road as championship leader and it couldn’t have come on a more punishing event. Heavy rain the weekend preceding the rally gave Evans a glimmer of hope but Sardinia always has and always will destroy the time card of the driver first on the road. It was a strangely quiet weekend for the championship leader after that as he concentrated on keeping things neat and tidy and capitalizing on others misfortunes. A fourth place finish was far from a disaster and with two rounds to go he’ll still feel confident about his championship chances.
Kalle Rovanperä 2/10
Rally Italy result: DNF
Well maybe it’s unfair of us to expect so much form Toyota’s Finnish prodigy but performances so far this season have shown us that he’s more than capable of winning rallies. And that’s why this mistake strewn weekend came as such a shock. Every driver has events where they know it’s just not going to be their week, and I suspect young Kalle perhaps felt that immediately after the first pass on shakedown while his Yaris WRC sat abandoned and on its roof in a ditch. Technical issues on Friday and a massive shunt amongst the cork trees on Saturday showed that Kalle is human after all. He’ll no doubt learn from this one and bounce back strongly.
Takamoto Katsuta 1/10
Rally Italy result: DNF
There’s no escaping the fact that this was a shocking weekend for the young Japanese driver but I’ve given Katsuta one point because I really like him and he’s possibly the politest guy ever to get in a rally car. I guess it’s all part of the learning curve and as you look to increase your pace mistakes are bound to happen. But two offs in one weekend, and the second of the two a potential chassis wrecking shunt is most certainly not what the bosses are looking for. Two destroyed Yaris WRCs in two outings equals massive question marks for the rest of the season.
Teemu Suninen 7/10
Rally Italy result: 5th
If I was rating drivers after SS2, Teemu would have been a 10/10 without a doubt. A pre event proverbial kick up the backside from team boss Rich Millener seemed to worked wonders with the young Finn flying through the opener nearly a full second per kilometer quicker than anyone else. Considering recent lackluster performances, it was quite an astonishing turnaround. OK, so things didn’t go quite so well from then on in, but we saw enough performance and fighting spirit from Suninen to suggest that perhaps he’s at last turned a corner.
Gus Greensmith 4/10
Rally Italy result: 25th
Gus was looking to follow up a career best finish in Turkey with a confidence confirming run here in Sardinia. A tidy day on Friday with some encouraging stage times unfortunately didn’t count for much when a sump guard cracking smack early on Saturday preceded further technical issues that left the Englishman stranded at the side of the road. Showed enough though to suggest that he’s back on the right track in his efforts to competed for regular top five finishes in the championship.
Esapekka Lappi 3/10
Rally Italy result: DNF
Like Suninen, Lappi was told before the rally that mid-table mediocrity was not what was expected from him. Started with a bang and a great time in SS1 and ended with a bang and a broken engine in SS2. With so few opportunities around for next season Lappi needed a big performance here on one of his favorite rallies but never got the chance to prove himself. Pressure is now mounting for a big performance next time out in Ypres.