Ott Tänak has taken M-Sport Ford’s first stage victory of this year’s Rally Italy Sardinia, as Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville continues to control the rally out front.
After a chaotic Saturday, punctuated by different conditions and intermittent rain showers, Sunday morning’s opening Arzachena – Braniatogghiu test was a calm affair by comparison where all Rally1 crews made it through unscathed.
With gaps large between all the leading positions, and the usual thought of saving tires for the powerstage lingering in the drivers’ minds, there was no need for anybody to push.
But there were three out-of-position drivers making their return on SS16 as Takamoto Katsuta, Tänak and Sébastien Ogier all restarted on Sunday following their respective retirements the previous day.
Unlike most of his rivals, Tänak kept up the intensity as the day essentially has become a testing session for the M-Sport driver.
“Car is all good and all OK, just experimenting a bit with the settings just to understand for Kenya,” Tänak said after winning the stage.
“Otherwise all going smoothly.”
The only drivers to get anywhere close to Tänak’s pace was rally leader Neuville and Elfyn Evans, who both dropped 4.3s as they shared the second-fastest time.
“Just a clean drive through, just to keep the lead and get through stages,” Neuville said.
“Every stage done is less mileage to the victory, so we stay on the road and try to stay clever.”
Neuville leads the way by 41.4s over team-mate Lappi, with Kalle Rovanperä, Evans and Dani Sordo all secure in their positions.
Lappi dropped 9.3s to the stage winner while Rovanperä and Sordo both shipped over 20s.