June 23, 2017
He came close a couple of times last year and now Ott is a winner at the top level of the WRC! Here’s the story of how it all happened in Italia, the place when the young Estonian picked up his first podium a few years ago.
The usual evening short stage gave us a leaderboard of sorts, but the action started properly Friday morning with an early start for the teams. The main challenge in this event being held on very narrow roads, making it a technical challenge!
End of SS1:
1 Neuville 2m01.8s
2 Tanak +0.2s
3 Sordo +0.4s
FRIDAY 9 JUNE
6.30am: Tyre fitting zone (Olbia – 10 mins)
7.18am: SS2 – Terranova (14.54km)
7.41am: SS3 – Monte Olia 1 (19.05km)
9.12am: SS4 – Tula 1 (15.00km)
10.17am: SS5 – Tergu-Osilo 1 (14.14km)
SS2 – TERRANOVA 1 (14.54km)
1️ Meeke 10:14.1 (84kph)
2 Hanninen +0.5
3 Paddon +0.8
When Thierry finished the first stage of the day, he explained that he’d had to slow down in the stage because of the dust hanging in the air. Hayden set a very good time indeed, going through third fastest, but it was Kris in his Citroen who was fastest! He explained about a lot of loose stones, but that it was a pretty good stage for him. Juho in the Toyota did a great time, showing that experience from this event helps a lot! He said at the end that he was surprised at the time. Andreas in his first outing in the C3 said that he was being very careful, just to get the feeling in the car, and that it would get better.
SS3 – MONTE OLIA 1 (19.05km)
1 Hanninen 13:25.8 (87.7kph)
2️ Meeke +3.2
3 Ostberg +4.6
The first casualty of this event would be Craig in his Citroen. The car would land heavily from a jump and damage to the gearbox leading to a big oil leak would mean that his day was done. Juho would win this stage and also take the overall lead by just two tenths of a second. He’d just moved from third to first in one stage!
SS4 – TULA 1 (15.00km)
1 Sordo 11:51.2 (81.8kph)
2 Neuville +2.0
3 Tanak +3.3
We would have our second car exit day one when Elfyn would leave the road, hitting some trees on the right-hand side and breaking the suspension on the front. He was out for the day as well. Dani would win stage four. Juho would fall behind Hayden and Kris again at the end of the stage, with the Citroen driver moving into the lead once more. Privateer Mads was maintaining fourth overall, whilst Seb was now 28 seconds off the lead in ninth place overall.
SS5 – TERGU-OSILO 1 (14.14km)
1 Lappi 9:06.3 (93.3kph)
2 Ostberg +3.3
3 Paddon +3.7
Esapekka Lappi would take his first stage victory in stage five, but it would be Kris and Dani who would have drama in this stage. Dani would lose power in the i20. There was smoke coming from the exhaust, thus meaning that clearly there was an engine problem. Kris sadly would roll his car again after the rear slid wide on a right-hander! They got the car back on it wheels and completed the stage, the bonnet lifting up against the windscreen near the end! Kris was now also out. What a shame.
Hayden was now in the lead, 4.3 seconds ahead of Juho, with the service break following stage five.
11.56am: Service A (Alghero – 30 mins)
3.25pm: SS6 – Terranova (14.54km)
3.48pm: SS7 – Monte Olia 2 (19.05km)
5.25pm: SS8 – Tula 2 (15.00km)
6.30pm: SS9 – Tergu-Osilo 2 (14.14km)
8.10pm: Flexi Service B (Alghero – 48 mins)
SS6 – TERRANOVA 2 (14.54km)
1 Lappi 9:59.5 (93.3kph)
2 Paddon +1.2
3 Tanak +1.7
After service, Esapekka would win stage six and stage seven as well, a great performance indeed, lifting him into ninth overall. He was a happy man, after changes to the car setup meant that he could drive to more of his potential!
SS7 – MONTE OLIA 2 (19.05km)
1 Lappi 13:04.9 (87.7kph)
2 Latvala +1.3
3 Neuville +1.3
After his drama’s earlier, Dani would win the last stages of day one and with that pace move into tenth overall at the end of the day.
SS8 – TULA 2 (15.00km)
1 Sordo 11:38.5 (81.8kph)
2 Latvala +8.2
3 Neuville +8.3
SS9 – TERGU-OSILO 2 (14.14km)
1 Sordo 8:53.2 (105kph)
2 Lappi +3.2
3 Tanak +3.6
So, let’s hear from the drivers starting with the top three.
Hayden Paddon (1st) said:
“We approached today with a specific plan, and we didn’t deviate from that. We know you can’t win this rally on the first day, so we just wanted to feel comfortable. The car felt good and we wanted to continue our positive morning into the afternoon. Unfortunately, we picked up front-left damper damage in SS7, which changed the balance of the car; things didn’t feel as good. Our focus today was on securing a good road position for tomorrow, so it’s mission accomplished from that point of view. I enjoy tomorrow’s stages a lot but we know it’s a tough, unforgiving rally. It’s nice to be leading this evening but we’re not getting carried away.”
Thierry Neuville (2nd) commented:
“It was nice to take the stage win on Thursday evening but today was the real start of the rally. We had a good day, although we lost around five seconds when we went straight at a junction in SS3 (Monte Olia), and had to reverse. Our road position meant we were cleaning quite a bit but I thought we might still be able to battle for a podium. We gave it a push in the afternoon, and actually didn’t have much performance left in our tyres by the end of the loop. Still, we set some pretty decent times and we have a great position in second, which will be important on Saturday.”
Ott Tänak (3rd) said:
“The gaps are so small at the moment that anything is possible. I tried to do my best but it didn’t feel like the best day at the office so it’s good to see that we are so close to the lead at the end of the day.
“The first loop was very slippery with some tricky conditions in the dust. I enjoyed it a lot more in the afternoon, but to be honest I didn’t have the perfect feeling. Sometimes it was okay and at other times it was a bit so and so.
“We have some ideas of what we can do to improve and it looks like everyone is looking forward to tomorrow’s stages so I think it will be good craic.”
Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT
Jari-Matti Latvala (4th)
“In the morning, I found the stages quite slippery and there was a lot of dust. Then on the third stage of the day we had an impact on the sump guard and this broke the starter motor, so I had to be careful not to stall the car, as there would be no way to start again. We fixed that at service and then in the afternoon we had no problems apart from one very strange thing: the rally plate on the bonnet came off and it was flapping around in front of me, so that was very distracting. But I’m happy with our performance in the afternoon after we were a bit up and down in the morning: it’s going to be a big fight tomorrow and I feel confident that we’re going to be right in the middle of it.”
Juho Hänninen (6th)
“Close to the finish of the final stage there was a slippery braking area near a bridge: I lost the rear of the car and it span and then I hit the front against a fence. That broke some radiator pipes but we were able to fix it and come to service. It’s a pity as before that it was a good day with no severe problems. Even though conditions were slippery, I felt that I had a lot of traction, so this shows that the work we have done with the dampers has been very effective. In the afternoon I backed off a bit on the particularly rough and rutted sections to try and be safe.”
Esapekka Lappi (9th)
“I’m surprised how today went: I really didn’t expect us to be able to do the times that we were setting. Especially in the morning, as we had no second gear: so maybe we only need five gears to win stages! I changed the set-up completely at service in the middle of the day and I had a much better feeling in the afternoon; the car felt perfect and that’s why I was able to set those times, even though we had a problem with a front-left damper during the second loop of stages.”
Mads Østberg (5th) said:
We actually still have a realistic chance of fighting for the victory, because this is a very tough rally and the margins are so tiny. Tomorrow will be a very hard day with more than 140 km’s of stages, and I just have to push on, but still be patient”
“Everything worked well this morning with good balance in the car, without having to push over the limit. But I made a mistake with my tyre choice for the second loop when I thought I could go a bit softer than my opponents. The soft tyres didn`t function that well in the high temperatures, and I lost the balance with more oversteering. It became a struggle to stay in touch with the leaders.”
He continued, ”14-15 seconds behind really is nothing in a tough rally like this. You can lead a rally with that margin and loose it all in one corner with a half-spin. I just have to push on and on the same time be a bit patient. It will for sure be exciting”
Sébastien Ogier (7th) said:
“It’s not been a fantastic day for us. We tried as much as we could with the grip that we had but that is just the way it is when you’re the first car on the road.
“I was happy with the car and we made some changes in service that I was pleased with, but every time I tried to push there was so little grip and the risks became too high.
“It’s frustrating as I had no chance to go faster today, but sometimes you just have to keep the bigger picture in mind and wait for the next day.”
Elfyn Evans (Rally 2 / 41st) said:
“On a tightening corner after a crest, there was a bad dip that I hadn’t noted on the recce. The car bottomed out and we were passengers after that. Unable to turn, we went straight into the trees and that was the end of our day.
“We weren’t going flat-out and I felt that we could have taken more risks through the first two stages so it’s just one of those things. There’s a fine line in this game and sometimes you get caught out – that was the case for us today.”
Citroen Abu Dhabi Racing
Andreas Mikkelsen (9th)
“It wasn’t an easy day. My aim was to keep learning about the Citroën C3 WRC. I have to take it gradually, step by step, before I can get back to playing with the leading guys! The car is different to drive compared to the ones I was used to driving and obviously, it takes a bit of time to adjust. We worked with the team to alter the set-up and adapt it to my driving style. The main thing is to have completed all the stages on this leg.”
Dani Sordo (10th) commented:
“To start with the positives, we have enjoyed these stages today and set some really competitive times when we could. Unfortunately, the turbo issue has overshadowed the day a bit. The team did all they could to resolve the problem fully at lunchtime service, but we then had troubles at the start of the afternoon loop related to the boost pressure. Thankfully, we were able to fix it in time for the final two stages, so we decided to go flat out and see what we could do. To take three stage wins today is obviously nice. Without the turbo issues, we might have been in the hunt for a podium. We will continue tomorrow but we know it’s going to be tough.”
Overall at the end of the first day.
1 Paddon 1:31:02.6
2 Neuville +8.2
3 Tanak +9.5
4 Latvala +9.8
5 Ostberg +14.7
6 Hanninen +38.0
7 Ogier +41.0
8 Lappi +1:05.3
9️ Mikkelsen +1:57.9
10 Sordo +14:04.2
SATURDAY 10 JUNE
5.00am: Service C (Alghero – 18 mins)
7.45am: SS10 – Coiluna – Loelle 1 (14.95km)
8.41am: SS11 – Monti da Ala’ 1 (28.52km)
9.20am: SS12 – Monte Lerno 1 (28.11km)
It was a very early start on Saturday morning! Could Hayden continue his fine run from yesterday? Well he started well with a stage victory. The young kiwi now had a 13.1 second lead over Thierry.
SS10 – COILUNA – LOELLE 1 (14.95km)
1 Paddon 8:00.8 (105kph)
2 Latvala +4.0
3 Tanak +4.2
Thierry won the next stage, and gained 4 second on Hayden, thus reducing the gap to just under 9 seconds. Ott was consolidating his third overall. Seb moved ahead of Juho into sixth position as well.
SS11 – MONTI DI ALA’ 1 (28.52km)
1 Neuville 17:02.8 (98.8kph)
2 Paddon +4.2
3 Tanak +5.1
This is the stage that features Micky’s Jump. Hayden still lead, but with Thierry getting a puncture, it was Ott who won the stage and the gap between them was reduced to 9.4 seconds. Andreas and Mads both also suffered punctures in this stage and the drivers who benefitted from this were Ott, Jari-Matti, Juho and Esappekka.
SS12 – MONTE LERNO 1 (28.11km)
1 Tanak 17:54.5 (98.8kph)
2 Paddon +5.2
3 Latvala +9.0
12.11pm: Service D (Alghero – 30 mins)
3.08pm: SS13 – Coiluna – Loelle 2 (14.95km)
4.04pm: SS14 – Monti da Ala’ 2 (28.52km)
4.43pm: SS15 – Monte Lerno 2 (28.11km)
7.24pm: Flexi Service E (Alghero – 48 mins)
After the service break, Ott would win again, also taking the lead overall as Hayden would have contact in the stage with the scenery and limped through after suffering a broken wheel. This put Latvala into second overall. Hayden had dropped down to fourth place.
SS13 – COILUNA – LOELLE 2 (14.95km)
1 Tanak 7:52.0 (120kph)
2️ Breen +1.0
3 Neuville +1.9
Ott would win again, but Thierry would come pretty close to beating the Fiesta ace. Sadly, Hayden would retire his car before this stage. Just too much damage to his car.
SS14 – MONTI DI ALA’ 2 (28.52km)
1 Tanak 16:48.1 (105kph)
2 Neuville +0.8
3 Latvala +3.5
It was time for the second run through the stage with Micky’s Jump. Lappi in his Yaris WRC won the stage, really showing his quality again and moving ahead of Juho into fourth overall. A brilliant run. The young Toyota crew had found a lot of time in the stage after the morning stage.
SS15 – MONTE LERNO 2 (28.11km)
1 Lappi 17:35.8 (98.8kph)
2 Neuville +0.1
3 Tanak +1.9
So, just like last year’s Rally Poland, Ott was leading with the just the Sunday stages to go. Could he do it this time, or would Jari-Matti come through to take the win?
Here’s the top ten at the end of Saturday.
Overall after SS15
1 Tanak 2:56:37.3
2 Latvala +24.3
3 Neuville +1:02.2
4 Lappi +2:10.8
5 Hanninen +2:42.1
6 Ogier +3:26.1
7 Ostberg +3:56.0
8️ Mikkelsen +7:47.6
9. Kopecky +9:52.9
10. Camilli +9:53.8
Let’s hear from all the drivers starting with the top three.
Ott Tänak (1st) said:
“It’s been a big fight all rally and I’ve really enjoyed it. Some guys have been dropping out, but we’ve been doing a good job and all we need to do now is keep going and continue exactly as we have been.
“I think we had a good strategy for this weekend. Sardinia is a very special event and it needs a very special approach. You always need to keep that margin and that is what we have done and what we plan to continue doing.
“A massive thanks to the team as the car has been perfect this afternoon. They’ve been working flat-out all hours of the day – literally – and we wouldn’t be sitting here in the first position if it weren’t for them.
“There’s still 40 kilometres of very demanding stages left to come, but there’s a good gap now and we just need to finish the job.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (2nd) said:
“On the final stage the tyres were finished and the brakes were also getting too hot. But apart from that, we’ve done some good work today and improved the car over the course of the rally. The main problem we had was during the first run through Monte Lerno this morning, when we were suddenly caught in the dust behind another competitor, who had a puncture. He didn’t know we were there as radio is not allowed, so we lost about 10 seconds. You can’t afford that in the fight for victory as it is so close, so the team has appealed to the stewards and I hope we get the time back.”
Thierry Neuville (3rd) commented:
“It was a frustrating morning but we are still in with a shout of the podium so we can’t be too disheartened. There have been issues for most crews so, on balance, we have to accept these things can happen at tough rallies like Sardinia. After our win in SS11, we had brake issues and we lost over a minute in SS12. We knew we were battling for the win and without this problem we would most likely have been leading at the end of Saturday. But this is rallying. The mechanics did a fantastic job to fix the car during lunchtime service. It was tight but they really allowed us to keep going into the afternoon loop, and to continue our fight for the podium. We will do all we can on the final day to consolidate this third place, and who knows what other twists this rally has to come!”
Toyota Gazoo Racing
Esapekka Lappi (4th)
“Today has been good but it’s been really about clean driving and not making any mistakes rather than pushing hard. On both loops of stages I felt my brakes going towards the end of Monte Lerno, so I tried just to be careful and bring the car home. In the afternoon, it was very important to look after the tyres in the hot and abrasive conditions, hopefully I judged it right. I started the day as third car on the road so there was lots of cleaning and not much of a clean line, so that was another new experience for me. It’s good because I’ve got a lot to learn.”
Juho Hänninen (5th)
“It’s going very well, the only problem was on the last stage of the day when we had a spin and a problem with the power steering, which cost us some time. Overall, I tried not to push too hard in the afternoon as I knew it would take a lot out of the tyres and I think we managed that well. At midday service, we made the car stiffer and raised the ride height a bit, to cope with the rougher conditions afterwards.”
Sébastien Ogier (6th) said:
“It’s been a tough weekend for us. I feel as though we’ve been driving well and I wouldn’t say that I’m unhappy with the balance of the car, but for some reason we’ve not been able to deliver the performance we wanted.
“There must be something wrong somewhere, but for the moment we’re not sure what. Of course every rally has its own characteristics, so hopefully we’ll be back up to our usual speed with a much better feeling in Poland.”
Mads Østberg (7th) said:
“This is a rally where luck actually can decide where you will end up. You cannot drive around every stone in the road, but you have to take some chances. On SS12 our luck ran out with a puncture and substantial timeloss”
“We did several changes to the car, but the main thing was the front diff, and that really did the trick. After service, I could play with the car again, instead of fighting with it. But then we had a new problem with the front suspension on the last stage, which nearly sent us off the road in 200 km/h”
“We just have to drive the four stages tomorrow to finish in a decent position and possibly set some good times and fight for power stage points. After the changes, we did to the car today I have a good feeling for that”
Citroen Abu Dhabi WRT
Andreas Mikkelsen (8th) said:
“It’s getting better and better! After the first day, which we spent mostly getting to grips with the C3 WRC, I had come to the conclusion that I needed to keep my driving style – which I know is effective – and work instead on the set-up. That’s what we did today, with a lot of changes from one stage to the next. It’s always difficult to work that like during a rally, because we only have the mid-leg service during which we can make the most significant changes. But the main thing is that we’re moving in the right direction.”
Craig Breen (Rally 2 / 27th)
“It would appear that we had a very good package for the first stage of the loop. That allowed me to put in a couple of good performances, unlike the other two stages, where I was really struggling. We don’t know why as yet, but I had quite a few moments in there. Whatever it was, we managed to make it to the end of the leg and collected a bit more experience. We’ll try to do the same thing tomorrow.”
Elfyn Evans (Rally 2 / 26th) said:
“We’ve got some good mileage under our belts today. This is one of the most abrasive rallies that we encounter all year so it was important to go out there and collect as much data as we could. That’s what we’ve done, and we can put that to good use for future development.”
Dani Sordo commented:
“We knew it would be a tough day from our starting position on the road, but we haven’t given up and just wanted to enjoy the stages. Frustratingly, we had a paddleshift problem in SS11 this morning. The upshift was working fine but we couldn’t downshift. The first run through Monte Lerno was better, though. In the afternoon, we picked up a puncture after about 1km into the first stage but again we just fought through as best we could.”
Hayden Paddon said:
“I am devastated. It was such a schoolboy error, which caused us to break the rear wheel. I turned in too early and clipped a bank. That was that. There is no one to blame but myself, and I am hugely sorry for the team and all of our supporters. It’s important that I learn from this and do all I can to put things right at the next event. Things were going so well and we were maintaining our lead, which makes it even more frustrating.”
Just four stages remained then to decide this event, and could Ott take a first victory?
SUNDAY 11 JUNE
7.30am: Service F (Alghero – 18 mins)
8.33am: SS16 – Cala Flumini 1 (14.06km)
9.08am: SS17 – Sassari – Argentiera 1 (6.96km)
9.28am: Regroup (Palmadula – 60 mins)
10.54am: SS18 – Cala Flumini 2 (14.06km)
11.20am: Regroup (La Pedraia – 45 mins)
12.18pm: SS19 – Sassari – Argentiera 2 – Power Stage (6.96km)
1.15pm: Service G (Alghero – 10 mins)
The return of Hayden under Rally 2 rules, saw him win the first stage of Sunday, with Ott losing six seconds to a charging Jari-Matti, his lead reduced to 18 .8 seconds. Craig showed that the C3 can be quick again, but that the team just need better consistency from their drivers.
SS16 – CALA FLUMINI 1 (14.06km)
1 Paddon 8:58.3 (105kph)
2 Latvala +0.9
3️ Breen +1.6
Dani took the next stage, with Ott taking a lot of time from Jari-Matti and increasing his lead to 25 seconds over the Finn.
SS17 – SASSARI – ARGENTIERA 1 (6.96km)
1 Sordo 5:10.0 (72kph)
2 Neuville +7.5
3 Tanak +8.7
Sadly, Hayden crashed out on the next stage, but once again Lappi came to the fore again, with another stage victory.
SS18 – CALA FLUMINI 2 (14.06km)
1 Lappi 8:46.9 (105kph)
2 Latvala +1.5
3 Ogier +2.0
Time then for the last stage and some points were up for grabs as well. Incredibly, Esapekka Lappi won this stage as well. He really is an exciting talent! Seb drove really well and passed Juho on the overall leaderboard and into fifth place. The big story was that Ott had taken his first WRC victory! A number of drivers had led this event, Kris, Hayden but it was the Estonian crew who came through the dust to seal the victory, the first for a driver since Marko Martin in 2004.
SS19 – SASSARI – ARGENTIERA 2 – PW STAGE (6.96km)
1 Lappi 5:10.5 (72kph)
2 Sordo +0.4
3 Ogier +1.3
4 Neuville +1.9
5 Latvala +2.3
1 Tanak 3:25:15.1
2 Latvala +12.3
3 Neuville +1:07.7
4 Lappi +2:12.9
5 Ogier +3:25.3
6 Hanninen +3:38.5
7 Ostberg +6:31.8
8️ Mikkelsen +8:07.8
9. Camilli +11:15.8
10. Kopecky +11:21.4
Let’s hear from the top three then.
Ott Tänak (1st) said:
“All everyone has been asking me is how it feels, and I can confirm, it feels good! It was a really difficult weekend but we had a clever strategy and we stuck to it – and now it’s happy days!
“The team have done the perfect job with the car and Martin has been mega. The whole first half of the season has been great. We have such a strong team – both inside the car and outside the car – and a strong team mate who is pushing me to do my best.
“Everything is coming together and we are improving all the time. We’re still a private team and you just have to look at the result from the year to see what an amazing job everyone is doing.
“This was an important step for us, and now that it’s job done, let’s see where we can go from here.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (2nd) said:
“In the end, we were quite close and so I’m happy about this result but I’m a bit disappointed with myself after two mistakes I made today: on the second stage this morning I stalled the car when I was in second gear in the high ruts, then when the same stage was run again as the Power Stage this afternoon I couldn’t get the car turning around the junction. Anyway, all in all I’m happy for the team: it was a good result and a good performance.”
Thierry Neuville (3rd) commented:
“Overall it has been a positive rally, even though we are disappointed at not being able to fight for the victory this weekend. We were just unlucky with a brake issue on Saturday that lost us over a minute, which we were not able to get back. To score a podium in this tough rally is still good and extends our run of positive results this season. I gave everything I could in the Power Stage but the road conditions didn’t really suit us and we weren’t able to raise the ride height enough. Still, we took a few more points and should be reasonably satisfied. We have closed the gap to Ogier ever so slightly but we know it will need a big push into this second half of the season to catch him.”
Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT
Esapekka Lappi (4th) said:
“I’m happy with this rally, we learned a lot. Today was good, especially the Power Stage, as that’s a stage where a lot of the drivers are pushing very hard. For the first two stages, today I was in full tyre saving mode: that’s why the times were not so good but in any case, we had nothing to lose or gain. Then on the stage before the Power Stage I pushed a little bit harder to get a feel for the speed again, then on the Power Stage it was full attack, but we had no problems: clean with no mistakes. On this rally, the most important thing I learned was the driving style of the car on these slow and twisty roads; now I need to find out a bit more about how to drive the car when we get to fast roads.”
Juho Hänninen (6th) said:
“There are many positives we can take away: we tested a lot of things and we gathered lots of useful information for the future. Unfortunately, today we had an intermittent steering issue – the same thing as yesterday – and that cost us a bit of time. But still we score some good points and my best result so far in the Yaris WRC. After the rally, it’s easy to regret the mistake I made on the last stage of Friday: that certainly penalised us in the start order on Saturday, so maybe things could have been different. It’s all part of the sport though and the main thing is we have a good team result with all three cars.”
Sébastien Ogier (5th) said:
“It wasn’t the best weekend for us but we’ve come away with 13 points and that is definitely a positive after such a tough few days.
“To lead the championship at the mid-point of the season is great – as long as you’re in the lead, you know that you are doing well.
“Congratulations to Ott on the win. He fully deserves it and it is another fantastic result for the team who have all worked so hard this weekend.”
Éric Camilli (1st RC2) (9th overall) said:
“I have always enjoyed Rally Italia Sardegna and I have especially enjoyed this weekend. The car has been perfect, the driving has been good and Benji has been word-perfect.
“It was a really good battle with Jan [Kopecky], but we pushed hard today and it’s great to come out on top with the victory.
“I’m taking a lot of pleasure away from this weekend and the team have been amazing. Everyone is working so hard and I think they should really enjoy the celebrations tonight!”
Mads had a big problem in the last stage of the event. His right-rear suspension collapsed!
Mads Østberg (7th) said:
“It happened without forewarning when I was braking for a sharp corner after a couple of minutes driving on the power stage. The right rear suspension just collapsed and the wheel was steering us sideways and nearly off the road all the way to the end of the stage. It was a real struggle to finish and there was a couple of corners where I thought we wouldn`t manage to come through. We did a Safari style repair with strips and a jacking troop to drive the last road section without losing the wheel.”
Anyway, he made it to the end despite this.
Speaking about the next rally in Poland,
“It’s not so rough with much smoother surface and above all much faster roads. We must work hard to sort out possible problems with the goal of finishing a rally and be fully competitive more than one day of the event. I have not forgotten how to drive fast”
Dani Sordo commented:
“A much better way for us to end the rally today compared to the frustrations of earlier in the event! I was happy to take a stage win this morning, our fourth of the weekend. We wanted to save our tyres for a good push in the Power Stage and we did just that. It wasn’t easy but I am happy to take some points away from this event. Without the turbo issues we had on Friday, we would have been more firmly in the hunt for a podium but we can do nothing about that now. We will just focus on the next rally in Poland and target a more representative result for us and the team.”
Hayden Paddon said:
“After Saturday’s misfortune, we wanted to use today to get back into a rhythm. Things started out well with a stage win, but that was the extent of our positives from today. In the penultimate stage, we had another very strange incident on a ‘nothing’ corner, where like yesterday I clipped the inside, which sent us wide. I don’t know why this is happening. I am incredibly disappointed in myself and for the team. I want to learn from this but at the same time put it behind us and look ahead to Poland.”
Citroen Abu Dhabi WRT
Yves Matton said:
Looking at the fortunes of the team at this seventh round, clearly the results vary from one crew to the next. “Before the start, we asked our drivers to make it to the end of the rally. I don’t think we were wrong to think that if they managed to do that, we would end up with two cars in the top five,” explained Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal. “Unfortunately, Kris was unable to adopt the pace required to have an error-free race. After the opening stages, he felt comfortable in the car and said that his pace was consistent with the targets set. Clearly, he has failed to maintain it.”
“As regards Craig, his race was rapidly brought to a halt after he was caught out when landing a jump,” continued Yves Matton. “His lack of knowledge of the stages proved very costly, because it’s a tricky spot that is well known to the more experienced drivers on this rally. Having said that, we have noted that his retirement was similar to the one he suffered in Argentina and we need to look at whether or not we can make the car more able to withstand this type of impact.”
“Andreas’ approach has been constructive and positive. Following the day of pre-event testing, we knew that the C3 WRC would need to be adapted to his driving style, which doesn’t involve left-foot braking at all. Clearly, that takes time and so this rally became something of a prolonged test session. More than the actual result – eighth overall – we think we did some good work together. He managed to identify the points we need to work on first and foremost, and to achieve some initial improvements.”
Let’s sum up this event then.
Kris and Hayden both continued having bad events this year, whereas Lappi, who will now drive the rest of the year for Toyota delivered a great result. What chance we’ll see him on the podium before the end of the year?
Seb continued to score good points to keep him in the lead of the championship, albeit with a slightly reduced lead to Thierry. To see Ott finally take that first victory though! Just brilliant! It moved him ahead of Jari-Matti into third in the drivers’ championship.
Next round is Rally Poland! Ott came very close to winning there last year, and what will happen this year? We shall see!
23rd June 2017
1. Sébastien Ogier – 141
2. Thierry Neuville – 123
3. Ott Tänak – 108
4. Jari-Matti Latvala – 107
5. Dani Sordo – 70
6. Elfyn Evans – 53
7. Craig Breen – 43
8. Hayden Paddon – 33
9. Juha Hänninen – 29
10. Kris Meeke – 27
1. M-Sport World Rally Team – 234
2. Hyundai Motorsport – 194
3. Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC – 143
4. Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team – 97
Warren Nel, WRC editor