Tänak drops out of contention with mechanical woes

The M-Sport driver lost 3m40s for a late check-out at the tire fitting zone


For the second time in three stages the big story was one of M-Sport’s Ford Puma Rally1s being in trouble before reaching the stage start.

In this instance it was Ott Tänak, who spent much of his time in the tire-fitting zone working at the front of his car on a suspected water pump issue.

There was no easy fix, with the M-Sport team unable to get hands-on to help due it not being a service period, and Tänak arrived at the start of SS4 a massive 22 minutes late and with a 3m40s time penalty now hanging over him.

But he did not even get to tackle Loutraki, as it was called off as the first Rally2 car was going through due to spectator safety concerns.

The only repeat stage of the day, and the driest too, the conditions favored the drivers who went in later in the running order and Sébastien Ogier made the most of being fifth on the road to go fastest by 2.2 seconds over Thierry Neuville.

That moved him into second place in the rally, with Neuville continuing to lead and with an extended margin of 2.4s.

In ruts of the stage, Neuville “was afraid to roll the car, so we lost a bit here and there”.

His Hyundai team-mate Esapekka Lappi went third fastest to climb two places into fourth overall, between Toyota duo Kalle Rovanperä and Elfyn Evans. Although remarkably he is actually matched on time with the latter.

Toyota’s title-contending pair were the first into the stage and both commented that it was “really dry” and were expecting it to get faster with more cars on it.

Lappi meanwhile had a radiator leak from landing nose-first over a bump on the previous stage, and it is an issue he will hope to have rectified before the next stage.

Hyundai’s returning Dani Sordo outpaced championship leader Rovanperä and gained a spot due to Tänak’s problems, but regretted choosing four soft and one hard tire for the loop – despite the conditions of the next two stages likely favoring his selection.