Tänak extends advantage at start of afternoon loop

Esapekka Lappi challenged for the lead again but came short on the sixth stage of Rally Italy


Ott Tänak extended his lead on Rally Italy with a first stage win of the event, as Craig Breen retook the final podium spot from Pierre-Louis Loubet.

With the demise of Elfyn Evans’ Toyota on Friday morning due to a hard impact against bedrock, it has been left to Tänak and the best-placed GR Yaris of Esapekka Lappi to battle for victory.

A stage win on Osilo-Tergu added another 2.7 seconds to Tänak’s overall lead, despite concerns that the amount of gravel sweeping for the earlier runners would hinder his pace.

“These ones are cleaning a lot,” said Tänak. “For sure it’s quite a hard surface and it’s coming out, so they will be fast behind. I had a very clean stage.”

But faster they were not, especially Lappi who is in the box seat for road order on Friday. Toyota’s best-placed driver was somewhat surprised he hadn’t lost even more time.


“It felt pretty horrible but seems like it’s OK,” was Lappi’s verdict.

Breen has retaken third place from M-Sport team-mate Loubet despite almost clipping a bridge, in a mistake that ended up costing him only a couple of seconds.

Approaching a slow left, Breen slid wide and stalled his Ford Puma, narrowly avoiding a small bridge wall.

While it cost him a chance to make inroads on the lead, with Breen now 14.1s behind Tänak, it was still more than enough to take the final podium spot from Loubet.

Seventh-placed Takamoto Katsuta continued to fall further behind Dani Sordo and Adrien Fourmaux up ahead, clocking a stage time slower than the fastest WRC2 crews.

It was a similar story for championship leader Kalle Rovanperä, who struggled as road sweeper and remains eighth.

After transmission issues in the morning, Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville is only fighting for a few points now but on SS6 he was able to pass WRC2 leader Andreas Mikkelsen for ninth place.

SS6 results

1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) 9m29.7s
2 Esapekka Lappi/Jenne Ferm (Toyota) +2.7s
3 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +4.0s
4 Dani Sordo/Candido Carrera (Hyundai) +4.2s
5 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +5.0s
6 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (M-Sport Ford) +5.8s
7 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +7.2s
8 Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (M-Sport Ford) +10.4s
9 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +15.0s
10 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +15.9s

Leading positions after SS6

1 Tänak/Järveoja (Hyundai) 1h00m40.8s
2 Lappi/Ferm (Toyota) +6.4s
3 Breen/Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +14.1s
4 Loubet/Landais (M-Sport Ford) +14.7s
5 Sordo/Carrera (Hyundai) +18.8s
6 Fourmaux/Coria (M-Sport Ford) +31.1s
7 Katsuta/Johnston (Toyota) +56.2s
8 Rovanperä/Halttunen (Toyota) +58.4s
9 Neuville/Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +2m07.3s
10 Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (Škoda) +2m08.9s