Rally Italy winner Dani Sordo has admitted that his performance on the run of stages that led to his third World Rally Championship win was “really bad”, as he had his lead diminished from almost half a minute to just 5.1 seconds.
The Hyundai driver was 27.4s after SS12 on Saturday, and on the opening Cala Flumini test of Sunday that gap was immediately slashed to 15.2s, giving Sordo a big wake-up call but not stopping his lead getting halved again as the day went on.
“At the end, today was really bad. I was so ahead of everyone,” Sordo told DirtFish.
“It was difficult because I didn’t want to make a mistake, but I didn’t want to lose the rally. And when it’s like this it’s so so difficult because you don’t want to hit something, you don’t want to make a mistake, but you need to push hard.
“It was difficult to manage, but at the end we do it, and it’s like this, at the end it’s a victory.”
The time loss on the first stage alone was a combination of a mistake, and very much not expecting team-mate Thierry Neuville and Toyota’s Sébastien Ogier to be as quick as they were in their pursuit of his lead.
“In the first corner I went a little bit wide and I hit a little bit the rear of the car,” he said. “After that, because the stage was quite good grip, I was pushing and I was feeling like I was doing well, with the speed and all.
“But after the front people, who were really, really pushing really hard, so after you have to understand they are playing hard.”
Sordo responded on SS14 to extend his leading position by 0.9s, but on the penultimate stage he couldn’t match chasing team-mate Thierry Neuville or Toyota’s Sébastien Ogier, and ended up going into the rally-deciding powerstage with a 9.2s margin to the six-time champion from the opposing manufacturer.
“So in the first pass through the powerstage, this stage, I make [it] good because I really push. Second one, he was also tight with the others, he was fast on this one, and now in the power it was 10 seconds more or less if you don’t make a big mistake or something. But at one point I was starting to think I was punctured as well, it was difficult.”
The stress of the powerstage did not please Hyundai team boss Andrea Adamo, but with Neuville passing Ogier for second place on the powerstage it meant the manufacturer scored a one-two and kept Adamo – and Sordo – smiling.
“I think to win is always nice,” said Sordo. “This time the situation and all is a little bit quite different because also with the journalists and all we are separated. It’s not that nice as before. You can’t be more with your people, with your guys and mechanics, but to win is always nice.”i