Rally Italia Sardgena 2024 Tänak Narrowly Beats Ogier

The third and final day of Rally Italia Sardegna has come to a close. Ott Tänak took home the event win barely beating out Ogier.

SS13, Cala Flumini 1

Thierry Neuville kicked off the final day with a stage win. As the Belgian set a time 4.6 seconds faster than Ott Tänak to top the stage and take an early lead in the Sunday standings. Elfyn Evans was third fastest on the stage, 6.1 seconds slower than Neuville and 1.5 seconds slower than Tänak. Sebastien Ogier finished fourth fastest on the stage, 2.5 seconds slower than Evans. Dani Sordo rounded out the top five on the stage, finishing 5.6 seconds slower than Ogier. No drivers reported any issues on the stage.

SS14, Sassari-Argentiera 1

Thierry Neuville also took home the stage win on the fourteenth stage of Rally Italia Sardegna 2024. With a time 0.8 seconds faster than Ott Tänak. Takamoto Katsuta finished third fastest on the stage, 2.6 seconds slower than Neuville and 1.8 seconds slower than Tänak. Dani Sordo set the fourth fastest time on the stage, 1.8 seconds slower than Katsuta. Elfyn Evans rounded out the top five on the stage, 0.1 seconds slower than Sordo.

SS14, Cala Flumini 2

Ott Tänak took home the stage win on the events penultimate stage. As the Estonian set a time 0.4 seconds faster than Sebastien Ogier to win the stage. Elfyn Evans finished third fastest on the stage, 2.3 seconds slower than Tänak, and 1.9 seconds slower than Ogier. Thierry Neuville was fourth fastest on the stage, 2.9 seconds slower than Evans. Dani Sordo rounded out the top five times on the stage, finishing 4.3 seconds slower than Neuville.

SS16, Sassari-Argentiera 2

Thierry Neuville took home the final stage win of Rally Italia Sardegna 2024. With a time 2.3 seconds faster than Ott Tänak to top the Powerstage and Sunday standings. Elfyn Evans was third fastest on the stage, 6.4 seconds slower than Neuville and 4.1 seconds slower than Tänak. Adrien Fourmaux tied for fourth fastest on the stage, with both finishing 0.3 seconds slower than Evans.

Championship Rundown

Thierry Neuville still holds onto the championship lead after a less-than-desirable Rally Italia Sardegna 2024 for the Belgian. Neuville managed to take home 12 points from the event. Ott Tänak and Elfyn Evans sit tied for second overall. With both sitting just 18 points behind Neuville. Sébastien Ogier moves up to fourth in the championship, 12 points behind Tänak and Evans. Adrien Fourmaux drops to fifth and rounds out the top five in the championship sitting 18 points behind Ogier.

Team Quotes

Hyundai Shell Mobis

Cyril Abiteboul – Team Principal

“It is obviously a very emotional finish here today. It looked like the win would once again escape from our grasp after Ott wisely decided to play it safe yesterday. However, today’s result showed that you can also combine a smart approach to a rally with strong skills and the right momentum at the perfect time, resulting in a great win. It is a fantastic moment for him in his return to the team. This is a strong step in the championship, and an excellent team result with Dani on the podium. He did exactly what we expected of him for the team this weekend and it’s great to see them both from on that podium, underscoring our competitiveness. Finally, Thierry has once again demonstrated his very commanding speed in any road position, including today when the motivation level was very high to make up for the loss and disappointment of yesterday. Obviously, we need to make sure that mistakes are as limited as possible as we expect this championship to continue to be incredibly competitive until the very end. There is even more to celebrate today, with our cars locking out the TCR class podium at the Nürburgring 24 Hours – we send our congratulations to our colleagues there for a phenomenal result.”

Ott Tänak – 1st Overall

“I’m feeling so many emotions right now. I’m very sorry for Seb to lose a win like this, it is cruel. I have been in the exactly the same position having a ‘safe’ victory taken away from me a couple of years ago. It’s been a tough weekend but it is great to finish with such a strong result. Let’s see what the next rallies will bring; we’re moving into the second half of the season and we’re definitely in the game. Now we have some fast rallies which I normally looking forward to, but I was supposed to enjoy yesterday afternoon as well but it was just not going to plan. Hopefully, we can find a good feeling in the car in our next events.”

Dani Sordo – 3rd Overall

“It wasn’t the easiest of days; Elfyn was having a good run and making good progress, so he was pushing us to the very end. In the final stage, I just tried to survive, it was completely destroyed and very hard on the car. We finish on the podium, which makes me very happy. It has been a joy to be back in the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid for these two events, which I enjoy so much, and I am pleased to be able to bring home a great result for the team. It was important for us to have a good finish and help the team in such a close battle for the manufacturers’ championship.”


Thierry Neuville – 41st Overall [SR]

“We did the job we needed to do today, but we are obviously frustrated with what happened yesterday. We were clearly managing the conditions, the speed was good and we felt comfortable – and fast. I just lost focus for a fraction of a second, and there was no way to continue. I’m not very proud of the weekend as a whole but I take pride in our performance on Friday and today, as well as in the team for a great result today. Now we turn to Poland, where I have won before – we have shown great improvements last year in Estonia and Finland, so I am looking forward to it.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing

Akio Toyoda – TGR-WRT Chairman

“The surface in Sardinia is very demanding, and it always gives challenges to our team and cars. TGR has won Sardinia only once so far when Seb got the victory in 2021. Seb and Vincent were doing really well on this harsh and demanding event, but they missed out at the very last moment on the Power Stage. The gap of 0.2 seconds is so small and disappointing, but this is sport. Our team all hate to lose. We will turn this frustration into strength and aim for the next victory.

P.S. to Ott

I was on-site in Rally Sardinia 2019 and following your performance. You made up for the disappointment of that Power Stage this time. Congratulations!”

Jari-Matti Latvala – Team Principal

“We are of course very disappointed to miss out on the victory in this way. This final stage in Sardinia has been very dramatic in the past and unfortunately, it’s not the first time that we have experienced late drama here, because it reminds us of what happened back in 2019 when we were leading with Ott until the last stage. This event has not always been kind to us, but it was looking very good for Seb and we thought we could take another victory together here. The only positive is that it didn’t affect the points so much for us. A moment like this can be difficult to digest, and we hate to lose, but we also never lose our fighting spirit and we will come back to fight again on the next event in Poland.”

Sébastien Ogier – 2nd Overall

“We knew it could be tough today with some stages that are very rough and maybe not the most suited to us. Still, I think we were doing a good enough job to secure the win, but unfortunately, we started to lose tyre pressure three kilometres from the end. The conditions were very extreme in this Power Stage, even worse than we have seen there before, and I don’t think there was much that I could have done differently. It’s something that’s never easy to take, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t really change anything in terms of the overall points for the team. I think I can still be happy with the weekend I’ve done, and sometimes motorsport just doesn’t go your way. We will come back and try to keep up this level of performance we’ve had.”

Elfyn Evans – 4th Overall

“It’s been a very difficult weekend for us but today was a bit better. I would say the feeling was definitely improved and I think the times and the points that we got from the day showed that. Still, it’s clear looking at the weekend overall that we still have a lot of work to do to improve in rallies with conditions like this one. The good news is that the characteristics now change to something quite different for the next three rallies. We know the car can be strong on fast rallies like those and it will be important to prepare as best we can and try to find confidence early.”

Takamoto Katsuta – 35th Overall

“Today my target was to get some points. We knew it would be difficult with our starting position, and the first stage was not good because we had a lot of dust from the car in front and could not see so much. We took some points but of course, I wanted more. Things were working well earlier in the rally, everything was under control and then unfortunately we had the technical issue. But it was a demanding rally for the cars and sometimes things like this can happen: I just need to accept it and move forward to the next rally.”

M-Sport Ford

Richard Millener – Team Principal

“We knew it was always going to be hard to continue our good run here in Sardinia, one of the toughest events of the European part of the WRC, but dispute not getting the result we wanted, we can still be happy with the speed Adrien and Alex showed on many of the event stages. I also want to congratulate Gregoire and Louis on their best result to date in the WRC – a really great achievement for them both and secures them eight championship points. We now look towards three fast rallies in a row where we are determined to get back to chasing the podium places.”

Grégoire Munster – 5th Overall

“I’m just happy we had a trouble free event, and at the end, we reached our best result in the WRC, so we’re very happy with this. There’s still plenty of work to do and pace to find but we’re always going in the right direction. Especially seeing us get our fourth fastest time in SS3, we now need to build on that and keep the momentum going into the next few events.”

Adrien Fourmuax – 15th Overall

“I think we can be quite positive with the pace we showed this weekend, on Friday and Saturday especially. It’s a shame what happened with the electronic issue on Friday, but we are working on these things for the future. On Sunday, it was good to get some extra points for the Power Stage, even if we wanted more from the daily standings on Super Sunday. We need to focus a bit on the slower corners, to get the car more agile, but this is very specific to Sardinia. Overall I have been happy with the car and now we need to focus on the upcoming smooth gravel rallies.”

Rally Italia Sardegna 2024 Ogier Retains Lead After Day Two

The second day of Rally Italia Sardegna 2024 has come to a close. Sebastien Ogier retained the event lead after the day.

SS5, Tempio Pausania 1

Ott Tänak kicked off the day with his second stage win of the weekend. As the Estonian set a time 3.3 seconds faster than Thierry Neuville to top the stage. Sebastien Ogier finished third fastest on the stage, 4.6 seconds slower than Tänak and 1.3 seconds slower than Neuville. WRC2 driver Yohan Rossel was fourth fastest on the stage, 5.3 seconds slower than Ogier. Takamoto Katsuta rounded out the top five on the stage, finishing 0.4 seconds slower than Rossel. Ott Tänak took over the event lead on the stage. Tänak took a 0.1-second lead over Ogier into SS6. Ogier suffered a puncture on the stage.

SS6, Tula-Erula 1

Sebastien Ogier took home the stage win on the sixth stage of Rally Italia Sardegna 2024. With a time 2.3 seconds faster than Ott Tänak. Thierry Neuville finished third fastest on the stage, 3.2 seconds slower than Ogier and 0.9 seconds slower than Tänak. Takamoto Katsuta set the fourth fastest time on the stage, 18.1 seconds slower than Neuville. WRC2 driver Yohan Rossel rounded out the top five on the stage, finishing 0.7 seconds slower than Katsuta. Sebastien Ogier was able to reacquire the event lead on SS6. With Ogier now holding a 2.2-second lead over Tänak. No drivers had any reported issues on the stage.

SS7, Tempio Pausania 2

Thierry Neuville took his first stage win on the day on SS7. Setting a time 0.1 seconds faster than Ott Tänak to win his second stage of the weekend. Sebastien Ogier was third fastest on the stage, 4.5 seconds slower than Neuville and 4.4 seconds slower than Tänak, making Tänak the new rally leader. Elfyn Evans finished fourth fastest on the stage, 4.5 seconds slower than Ogier. Takamoto Katsuta rounded out the top five on the stage, finishing 1.3 seconds slower than Evans.

SS8, Tula-Erula 2

Ott Tänak took home the stage win on the final stage of the morning loop. As the Estonian posted a time 1.3 seconds faster than Sebastien Ogier to expand his event lead to 3.5 seconds over Ogier. Takamoto Katsuta finished third fastest on the stage, 8 seconds slower than Tänak and 6.7 seconds slower than Ogier. Dani Sordo had the fourth fastest time on the stage, 2.8 seconds slower than Katsuta. Elfyn Evans rounded out the top five on the eighth stage of Rally Italia Sardegna 2024, finishing 4.8 seconds slower than Sordo. Reigning event winner Thierry Neuville crashed out on the stage. Forcing him to retire from the day.

SS9, Monte Lerno 1

Sebastien Ogier kicked off the afternoon loop with his second stage win of the day. Finishing with a time 6.8 seconds faster than Ott Tänak to take back the event lead. Ogier now leads by 3.3 seconds over Tänak. Adrien Fourmaux set the third fastest time on the stage, 11.5 seconds slower than Ogier and 4.7 seconds slower than Tänak. Dani Sordo was fourth fastest on the stage, 9.4 seconds slower than Fourmaux. Elfyn Evans rounded out the top five on the stage, finishing 5.5 seconds slower than Sordo. Takamoto Katsuta was forced to retire early into the stage with what’s believed to be a transmission issue.

SS10, Coiluna-Loelle 1

Sebastien Ogier also took home the stage win on the tenth stage of Rally Italia Sardegna 2024. As Ogier set a time 6.4 seconds faster than Ott Tänak to extend the event lead to 9.7 seconds. Adrien Fourmaux was once again third fastest on the stage, finishing 7.4 seconds slower than Ogier and 1 second slower than Tänak. Elfyn Evans finished fourth fastest on the stage, 1.2 seconds slower than Fourmaux. Dani Sordo rounded out the top five on the stage, finishing 2.9 seconds slower than Evans. No drivers reported any issues on the stage.

SS11, Monte Lerno 2

Sebastien Ogier also took home the stage win on the eleventh stage of Rally Italian Sardegna 2024. With a time 6.5 seconds faster than Ott Tänak to further extend the event lead to 16.2 seconds. Dani Sordo finished third fastest on the stage, 7.7 seconds slower than Ogier and 1.2 seconds slower than Tänak. Adrien Fourmaux set the fourth fastest time on the stage, 6.2 seconds slower than Sordo. Elfyn Evans rounded out the top five on the stage, finishing 0.7 seconds slower than Fourmaux. No drivers reported any issues on the stage.

SS12, Coiluna-Loelle 2

Elfyn Evans took his first stage win of Rally Italia Sardegna 2024 on the final stage of day two. As the Welshmen set a time 0.4 seconds faster than Sebastien Ogier. Ott Tänak was third fastest on the stage, 1.3 seconds slower than Evans and 0.9 seconds slower than Ogier. Dani Sordo finished fourth fastest on the stage, 0.7 seconds slower than Tänak. Adrien Fourmaux rounded out the top five on the stage, 0.3 seconds slower than Sordo.

What To Expect From Rally Italia Sardegna 2024 Day Three

The third and final day of Rally Italia Sardegna 2024 will see drivers contest 39.30 km across four stages. Thierry Neuville will be first on the road, followed by Takamoto Katsuta and Adrien Fourmaux. Neuville will likely look to make a huge push on Super Sunday due to his retirement today. If he doesn’t he’s at risk of losing the championship lead for the first time this season.

Driver Quotes

Toyota Gazoo Racing

Jari-Matti Latvala – Team Principal

“To be leading at the end of another Saturday definitely gives us a great feeling. Seb has been driving superbly once again. Even with no spare tyres left, he was able to keep up his speed this morning and then attack in the afternoon. Taka was driving well and keeping Dani Sordo behind, so it was a pity that he had to stop with the transmission-related issue, but the last stage of the morning was very rough and it seems something had broken as a consequence. Elfyn hasn’t had the best feeling in this rally but he’s been driving consistently and, with Thierry making a mistake, he has moved into a better position and if everything goes well tomorrow, this can help him in the championship. It’s a relatively short final day tomorrow but I’m sure everybody will be pushing hard and we can expect more tense competition.”

Sebastien Ogier – 1st Overall

“It’s been an incredible day overall. Very rough and very tough. The morning stages were not so fun to drive with some of the roughest conditions we’ve ever seen. That was really about surviving and I’m glad we were able to do that, especially after we lost one tyre after the first stage of the day. The afternoon was completely different: it was much more enjoyable to drive. The pleasure was back so I really enjoyed it and I managed to create a gap, so tonight it’s very positive. Tomorrow we still expect some rough conditions, but we will still need to have some speed and just carry on with the same approach.”

Elfyn Evans – 4th Overall

It’s been a long and tough day out there. I think our speed has been better in certain stages than in others. When there’s a bit more room and the surface is sandier, it suits us better. When it’s tight and twisty we’re still struggling a bit. The good thing is that we got the car to the end of the day when others weren’t able to do so and that’s helped us move up the leaderboard. Of course, we still have tomorrow to get through to secure those points, and hopefully, we can push to take a few more.”

Takamoto Katsuta – 40th Overall [SR]

“Everything was going quite well this morning. It was a very rough loop – the last stage especially was very extreme and tough for the cars. We managed to get up to third overall so we were in a good position. But I started to hear a noise in the last stage of the morning and we found that we had an issue with the transmission. With a normal service, we could have fixed it, but with just the tyre-fitting zone we could not do so much. We tried, but it got worse on the first stage of the afternoon and we had to stop. It’s tough, but this is rallying and we just need to look forward.”

Hyundai Shell Mobis

Cyril Abiteboul – Team Principal

“Definitely a day of mixed feelings.  We have had some great moments in very good position, including Ott in the lead, but also some disappointments when Thierry made a mistake and went off, meaning he could not complete the day. It is unfortunate as he was looking to build his advantage, but he will be back on Sunday with renewed focus. Ott kept the fight alive against Ogier but eventually elected to take a cautious approach, especially as he still occasionally lacks confidence in certain conditions with the car. Today was one of those days, but tomorrow he will be back on a massive attack. Dani did a great job keeping Evans behind, which is a crucial contribution to the team’s objective and our final result in a very contested championship season.”

Ott Tänak – 2nd Overall

“Generally, I was expecting a very tough first half of the day, which it was, and it was a big job to keep the pace on these roads – it took a lot of energy. I was hoping for a better afternoon on stages that I really enjoy, but I couldn’t make it work. I couldn’t find a good rhythm in the car and when you don’t have full confidence, it’s hard to keep pushing to the maximum. I also had to be safe and not take any risks. Every day has been very different and tomorrow we have two unique stages – the Power Stage on the beach cannot be compared to anything else. It is very cool if you have nothing to lose, but we can’t lose what we have achieved already.”

Dani Sordo – 3rd Overall

“I was performing better this afternoon when I had better grip on the surface of the roads, but it was a tough day and I did struggle. The problems of Katsuta and Thierry gave us a little bit of a boost, but in the end, I started to push and managed to build a gap of thirty seconds. Tomorrow is another really demanding day, with narrow and difficult stages, so we need to keep pushing forwards. Our goal is to keep Evans behind and finish on the podium at a minimum, and try to keep up with the guys in front.”

Thierry Neuville – 44th Overall [SR]

“We were in the middle of a very tricky twisty section when I momentarily lost my concentration on a corner and didn’t realise we would have a slow one right after. I was too late on the brakes and I knew immediately it was going to be tricky to get out of the situation. There were no spectators around to help push us back on, which meant that despite having no damage on the car, we were unable to continue.  Tomorrow we have a clear target: to push as hard as we can to take the full 12 points from the day. It’s the best we can do in this situation.”

Rally Italia Sardegna 2024 Ogier Leads After Day One

The first day of Rally Italia Sardegna 2024 has come to an end. Sebastien Ogier leads the event after the days four stages.

SS1, Osilo-Tergu 1

Sebastien Ogier picked up where he left off in Portugal. As the Frenchman took home the stage win on the weekend’s first stage. With a time 7.7 seconds faster than Ott Tänak. Adrien Fourmaux and Dani Sordo tied for third fastest on the stage. With both drivers finishing 14.5 seconds slower than Ogier and 6.8 seconds slower than Tänak. Takamoto Katsuta rounded out the top five times on the stage, finishing 0.3 seconds slower than Fourmaux and Sordo. Elfyn Evans suffered a slow puncture on the stage. The Welshman managed to finish eighth fastest on the opening stage.

SS2, Sedini-Castelsardo 1

Ott Tänak took home the stage win on the second stage of Rally Italia Sardegna. As the Estonian posted a time 1.2 seconds faster than Thierry Neuville to top the stage. Adrien Fourmaux finished third fastest on the stage, 1.9 seconds slower than Tänak and 0.7 seconds slower than Neuville. Takamoto Katsuta set the fourth fastest time on the stage, 2.7 seconds slower than Fourmaux. Sebastien Ogier rounded out the top five on the stage, 1.3 seconds slower than Katsuta. No drivers reported any issues on the stage. Sebastien Ogier remains in the event lead after the stage only 1.8 seconds ahead of Tänak.

SS3, Osilo-Tergu 2

Sebastien Ogier also took home the stage win on the second running of the Osilo-Tergu stage. With a time 2.9 seconds faster than Ott Tänak this time around. Dani Sordo had his first top-three time this weekend on the stage, finishing 8.8 seconds slower than Ogier and 5.9 seconds slower than Tänak. Grégoire Munster was fourth fastest on the stage, 4.9 seconds slower than Sordo. Takamoto Katsuta rounded out the top five on the stage, 0.4 seconds slower than Munster. Adrien Fourmaux suffered a puncture on the stage. Much like Evans, he was still able to have a decent finishing time on the stage, finishing 9th, 39.4 seconds slower than Ogier. Sebastien Ogier was able to expand his lead to 4.7 seconds ahead of Tänak heading into the fays final stage.

SS4, Sedini-Castelsardo 2

Thierry Neuville capped off the first day of Rally Italia Sardegna 2024 with his first stage win of the weekend. As the championship leader set a time 3.7 seconds faster than Ott Tänak on the stage. Sebastien Ogier finished third fastest on the stage, 3.9 seconds slower than Neuville and 0.2 seconds slower than Tänak. Takamoto Katsuta was fourth fastest on the stage, 6.9 seconds slower than Ogier. Elfyn Evans rounded out the top five on the stage, 0.2 seconds slower than Katsuta. Fourmaux retired in the stage due to an electrical issue.

What To Expect From Rally Italia Sardegna 2024 Day Two

The second day of Rally Italia Sardegna 2024 will see drivers contest 149 km across eight stages. The day will feature no midday service. Adrien Fourmaux will be first on the road followed by Grégoire Munster and Elfyn Evans. Sebastien Ogier takes a 4.5-second lead over Ott Tänak into the day. Ogier will be looking to expand on that lead to take home his third consecutive win this season and 61st career win.

Driver And Team Quotes

Toyota Gazoo Racing

Jari-Matti Latvala – Team Principal

“Generally I’m very happy tonight with how our rally has started. I could see already in shakedown that Seb’s confidence levels were high and he started the rally very strongly. He showed a great performance and to be leading the rally after the first day is really nice. Taka started with a careful approach but he was improving his pace all the time so it’s been generally a good start for him as well. Unfortunately, Elfyn already got damage to one of his tyres very early on and then had to be more careful in order to get through the loop. But overall I’m pleased with our performance at the start of the rally, as this hasn’t been the easiest event for us in the past, and hopefully, we can continue this progress, but tomorrow will be a long and tough day for everybody.”

Sebastien Ogier – 1st Overall

We’re in the lead tonight so it’s been a positive start. It’s been tough: we expected a difficult loop with some abrasive sections that would be tough for the tyres, especially this first stage, Osilu-Tergu. It was also my first time driving this stage in that direction. Still, we went with an aggressive choice of five tyres for the afternoon and I did have to take care a little bit in some sections to manage it, but it’s nice to be in the lead. We made a positive step today that now gives us the optimum start position for tomorrow, but the gap to second place is close so it’s going to be an intense fight.”

Elfyn Evans – 6th overall

“It’s been a tough start for us. Picking up a puncture near the end of the first stage was not ideal, and then both times through the second stage of the loop was difficult for us. We struggled with the feeling in there and we were having to be careful with no spare tyre left to use. It was just a pity that happened so early on because that made it hard to manage the wear across the rubber we had left. It’s a long and difficult rally to go still and we’ll keep going and see what comes. We need to keep learning on this type of surface, try to find improvements and keep working towards where we want to be.”

Takamoto Katsuta- 4th Overall

“We are not in a bad position tonight. I’m not fully happy with myself, I was struggling a bit through most of the stages and it was a bit of a pity that I could not finish one place higher to get the better road position for tomorrow. But still, there’s a long way to go. I just need to find what I can improve in my driving to be better tomorrow and to push with a bit more confidence. With no mid-day service, there’s not much we can change on the car during tomorrow so as drivers we will need to adapt, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Hyundai Shell Mobis

Cyril Abiteboul – Team Principal

“It has been a good opening day here in Sardinia. It was our first experience of this new sprint format and it unfolded as we both expected and hoped it would. Ott had very strong pace, which has put him in a good position for a push tomorrow. He will be supported by Dani, who managed to keep Katsuta and Evans behind him today. Thierry had dealt with his road position very well, and we end the first day in pretty much the best situation possible. However, we have to stay focused on the job at hand, as tomorrow is going to be a long and unpredictable day.”

Ott Tänak – 2nd Overall

“We can be happy after our day, and we have a good road position for tomorrow. It would have been nice to have been one better but we can be content with what we have. It was a bit challenging in that last stage on both runs – the loss of the hybrid boost wasn’t as important on the first, as there was not much grip on the loose gravel, but the second was very grippy and it would have helped a lot. Thankfully, the strong Hyundai engine pulled us through and ensured we didn’t lose too much time. Tomorrow is going to be very demanding, particularly the first four stages; they are very slow, narrow and twisty – there’s no flow at all, but you have to push.”

Thierry Neuville – 5th Overall

“Today was worse than I expected if I am honest. We hoped that we could take some softs to try and minimise the disadvantage of our road position, but ultimately it was very warm and we had to go with full hard tyres on the abrasive stages. In hindsight, we should have taken one more with us to allow us to properly attack in every single corner, but I’m still happy with my day. I would love to have been third overnight rather than fifth, but we are constantly adapting and there is still an opportunity for a podium. Tomorrow we need to make sure we don’t lose too much time and score the maximum points as we push for the top three.”

Dani Sordo – 3rd Overall

“I’m happy to finish the day in third, especially as it wasn’t certain in those last two stages that we would have a good road position for tomorrow. We had to manage the tyres because we were really on the limit at the end, but it has been a nice day. I expected to be closer to the battle at the front, but Ogier and Ott were on a different level. Although I lost time on the first and last stage, it was important to finish today where we did, as tomorrow is going to be tough.”

Rally Italia Sardegna 2023, Day One Report

The first full day of competition tackled 141km over six stages and to celebrate the 20th edition of this rally the stages featured a huge 49.9km stage, Monte Lerno, which included the famous Mickey’s Jump!

Esapekka led following the first stage on Thursday evening from Ott and Thierry. The start list for the first full day looked like this – Rovanperä, Tänak, Ogier, Evans, Neuville, Lappi, Sordo, Katsuta, Loubet.

Into the first stage of the day then, SS2 Tantariles 20Ris 1 – 10.71 km and the overnight leader Esapekka was second fastest behind new overall leader Seb, whilst Pierre-Louis was third fastest and climbed up six positions and into third overall. In WRC2 Oliver held the lead from Andreas and Teemu.

Takamoto made it two stage wins in a row for the Toyota team as he set the fastest time from Dani and Thierry. There was a change for the lead with EP passing Seb who could only manage the seventh best time. In addition to that, Takamoto after setting the fastest time also gained some positions, moving into third overall. There was a change within the WRC2 leader, with Andreas moving ahead of Oliver. The Swede had a huge problem at the end of the stage that featured a really challenging final section that still had large standing water following the rain earlier in the week. Somehow the front right suspension spring ended up becoming detached and was sticking outside the top of the wing!

The first run then of SS4 Monte Lerno – Sa Conchedda 1 – 49.90 km and Kalle who of course was opening the road could only manage the eighth best time and over 40 seconds slower than his teammate, Seb who won the stage from Elfyn and Esapekka. There were a few changes in the overall standings with Elfyn moving into fourth, Pierre-Louis into third. Takamoto’s brief third place came to an end as the Japanese driver slid straight onto some rocks. He finished the stage though dropping two places into fifth. It was not as big as Dani’s moment though! He went off the side of the road nose first and the car rolled as well. However, he got going again and finished the stage with huge damage to the front and a heavily damaged rear wing.

After lunch time service the second run of SS5 Tantariles 20Ris 2 – 10.71 km was won by EP from Pierre-Louis and Thierry. However, it’s important to report the Frenchman was given a notional time with a number of other competitors. This was done due to some safety issues in the stage and therefore the stage not being able to be run in full leading to the notional times for the later crews. This is where it was really strange for the Frenchman to be given a time as he was not allowed to start the stage due to being unable to engage any gears. In the WRC2 category Gus Greensmith went off the stage and into a bush.

Into SS6 Terranova 2 – 8.41 km and Thierry was fastest from EP with Takamoto third. With the Belgian setting the best time and Elfyn only ninth fastest the Hyundai crew moved into third overall. In WRC2 Teemu was leading from Andreas and Adrien.

The challenge of SS7 Monte Lerno – Sa Conchedda 2 – 49.90 km remained as the final stage of the day and the rain was falling at different points in the stage. Top three fastest were Kalle, EP and Thierry. As you can tell the best place to be was either first on the road or driving a Hyundai. EP took the lead by just one tenth of a second over Seb and Kalle’s pace brought him into fourth overall with both Elfyn and Ott falling down the leader board to sixth and seventh overall. We also had a new WRC2 top three with Sami gaining three positions, Adrien one place and Emil two places.

Let’s take a look at the top positions and hear from the drivers.

Classification after Day One

1 E. Lappi J. Ferm Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid 1:31:48.8
2 S. Ogier V. Landais Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid +0.1
3 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +18.6
4 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +46.1
5 T. Katsuta A. Johnston Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +47.4
6 E. Evans S. Martin Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +1:05.6
7 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid +1:09.8

Hyundai Motorsport

Esapekka Lappi

“Today was a day of survival. There was a lot of surprises on that final stage with muddy braking points or corners that were hidden behind bushes. The mixed conditions meant you couldn’t really fully commit because you didn’t know what to expect, but on the other hand you had to commit in order to keep the speed, but we managed. You knew as soon as you entered the forest sections it was going to be muddy and slippery, but there were also some puddles in the open air which was a surprise – it was not easy at all. I hope to have a better start tomorrow than I did in Mexico, but first of all we have to make the right tyre choice in the morning. After that, we need to continue what we did today and see where we are after the final stage.”

2023 FIA World Rally Championship Round 6,
Rally d’Italia Sardegna 2023, 1-4 June 2023
Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid, Action during Day 1 of WRC Rally Italia Sardegna 2023
Photographer: Romain Thuillier
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Thierry Neuville

“It was a bit of a struggle out there; the confidence wasn’t that high in the tighter corners, but we managed to get into a good rhythm. I’m feeling a little bit better in the car as well in those conditions, and in the end, we had some good stage times this afternoon to finish in third, which is a good position for tomorrow. The weather is going to make it challenging tomorrow as well; anything can happen and we’re going to see a lot of changes in the stage times for everybody. Today we were lucky that we all had more or less similar weather conditions, but with a few minutes’ gap between the cars it can be a huge difference. Our tyre strategy this afternoon was good, and it paid off.”

Dani Sordo

“It was a little bit difficult today, to be honest. On the first pass of the longest stage we went a bit safe with the tyres, and at one of the corners I went wide, and after that we rolled. We managed to bring the car to service and to the mechanics to repair it. There was not a lot of time, so Cándido and I did our best to help. I want to say thanks to them, they did an amazing job at midday, and I’m really sorry for my mistake. Thank you so much for your efforts. For sure it will be difficult now, there was some really tricky conditions this afternoon and it was challenging to drive, but let’s see what the weather does. If it rains a lot, we have an advantage with our early road order, but we have already lost a lot of time.

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Sébastien Ogier

“I’m happy with my day and to be in the position we’re in tonight. I was surprised with the gap we made in the first stage this morning and in Monte Lerno, but the car was working well, and I think we made the right tyre call which helped us to be fast this morning. It was a bit more difficult this afternoon, but it was still an OK loop. I was happy with my driving, a bit less with the decision we made in service; we had a bit the wrong tyre choice and setup. But we still managed to get through without any drama in the slippery conditions and without taking too many risks. We are still where we wanted to be, in the fight for the win. The gap is very close and tomorrow we will push again.”

Kalle Rovanperä

“It’s been quite a good day overall. This morning the first two stages were actually quite OK. There was a bit of dampness, and we were losing less time opening the road than I was expecting. But Monte Lerno was drier, and we lost a lot of time, and there was a lot of action for us in that stage. This afternoon it was still quite tricky even on the second pass, as the lines from the smaller cars were not really suitable for us. Then finally some rain came properly on Monte Lerno, and I tried to push hard and keep at it. I always seem to enjoy the rain and the muddy conditions, and we could take some time back. Now we’ll have a better starting place for tomorrow and we’ll try to push more.”

Elfyn Evans

“We started the day with a tricky couple of stages with the rocks lining the road and I was keen to get through cleanly and have a good car for Monte Lerno. We had a clean run through there also; it was nothing spectacular, but we seemed to manage everything quite well and got to the end without trouble and made up some places overall. It was a difficult afternoon and pretty rough; the first one was quite OK, then we gave away far too much on the second one. Unfortunately, at the end of Monte Lerno we picked up a puncture with a fair bit of time lost. But the gap is not huge to the guys in front, and we have Ott [Tänak] close behind so there’s plenty still to fight for.”

M-Sport Ford WRT

Ott Tanak

“We had some issues on the first stage that affected the engine quite a bit, some electric thing as we lost the hybrid as well. We also lost the water pressure and thought it was game over, but then the pump came back, and we slowly started to go again, and we in safe mode and I was able to bring it home.”

Day Two – Saturday

Tomorrow has 133km’s over eight stages and although the longest stage is the Erula – Tula stage at 21km’s in length but the challenge remains big. Let’s see who will be leading at the end of the second day. Pop back to read my report later in the day.

Rally Italia Sardegna 2023 Preview

Time for round six of this season’s championship and we come to the Island of Sardegna for the Italian round! Known for its extreme dusty roads and jumps this event is a favourite on the calendar.

Kalle and Jonne won the last round and come to this as championship leaders. They are joined as always in the Toyota team with their usual teammates, whilst Seb and Vincent are also entered. They will look to use their good starting position to set the pace throughout Friday’s stages and hope to hold on and take victory. However, Elfyn and Scott will want to do the same and it will be interesting to see how they get on.

Thierry and Martijn will have the same idea though and of course Thierry won this round in 2018. There is another Hyundai crew that will have the same idea. Yep, Dani won this round twice in recent years, taking victory in 2019 and also 2020. Let’s see what they can do this year! In fact, Esapekka and Janne will also be I believe challenging for victory. They showed great pace in Mexico and could do the same this weekend.

Meanwhile Ott and Martin at M-Sport Ford will definitely be in the fight this weekend. They took victory last year when at Hyundai and the Puma showed great pace in the hands of Craig Breen co-driven by Paul Nagle who of course took second place last year. For Pierre-Louis and Nicolas in the other Puma, the young Frenchman who has shown very good pace on gravel this year, they will want to take a great result and if things go well, could claim a top five finishing position. Of course, Nicolas won the event as co-driver in 2018 when with Thierry at Hyundai. Could he guide the young Puma driver to a podium this year? It will be interesting to watch!

Craig and Paul took second last year when at M-Sport Ford World Rally Team. Photo credit M-Sport Ford

Stage information

There is 320km’s over nineteen stages this year. Here’s the detail of what lies ahead throughout the weekend.

Following a shakedown in the morning, Rally Italia Sardinia officially begins on Thursday evening with the 3.23km Olbia – Cabu Abbas stage.

Friday is the longest day of the event with a total distance of 138.04km, which includes two passes of the mammoth test that is Monte Lerno – Sa Conchedda (49.90km).

Saturday’s itinerary consists of two loops of the four stages: Coiluna – Loelle (16.28km), Su Filigosu (19.57km), Erula – Tula (21.92km) and Tempio Pausania (9.96km).

Two passes each of Arzachena – Braniatogghiu (15.22km) and Sardegna (7.79km) bring the event to a close on Sunday.

Let’s hear from the drivers.

Toyota Gazoo Racing

Kalle Rovanperä

“Portugal was a great weekend for us, and it was nice to get a victory again. We will try to continue like this in the next events, but we know that Sardinia will be a much more difficult job. Of all the rallies in the calendar, I think this one has maybe been the trickiest for me, and if the weather is dry and hot like it usually is in Sardinia, it can be very difficult to be the first car on the road there; perhaps even more so this year with the 50-kilometre stage to be driven on Friday. It will be a demanding weekend but, like always, we will push together with the team to get the best result that we can.”

Elfyn Evans

“Portugal was a disappointing weekend on my side, but we have to put that behind us now, move forward to Sardinia and see what’s possible there. Our road position will be more favourable than what we started with on the last rally, but we know that it’s a challenging event regardless and one of the rougher rallies of the year. It definitely needs a smart approach but I’m looking forward to it, nonetheless. Like always in Sardinia, they mix up the stages every year. A lot of the route is known from before but some of it has not been driven for many years, so there will be a lot of new pacenotes to write during the recce – and this very long stage on Friday will of course be key.”

Sébastien Ogier

“Sardinia is a rally that I have learned to love. At first, I used to struggle going there, but over the years I started to master it more and more. The most recent memories I have of Sardinia are really good from when we managed to win in 2021 after starting first on the road, which is not normally possible on this event. Having missed Portugal, we will have a bit of a better starting position this time, but it will still be a difficult challenge, especially with this very long stage of 50 kilometres that the organisers have made for this year. I quite like that challenge, honestly; it adds some spice to the rally and the need for tyre management. It will certainly be an interesting rally.”


Hyundai Motorsport 

Thierry Neuville

“Sardinia presents a lot of challenges, but the biggest are the heat and tyre wear. The stages are also difficult as the surface is rough, and they are quite narrow and technical too, so there is not much room for mistakes. Our target is to deal with the conditions as best we can and fight hard for a good result. Portugal was a tough weekend for us. I had a different set-up from Dani and Esapekka which we think is one of the reasons why I was struggling with traction and car balance. Switching my car to similar settings to those of my team-mates should be beneficial in the quest for improved performance and I’m looking forward to putting this to the test.”

Esapekka Lappi

“Sardinia is generally quite a slow rally with very technical stages. The second pass is particularly demanding for the tyres and car as there’s some bedrock and lots of loose rocks that get pulled onto the road. The usual high temperatures of around 30 degrees also add to the challenge. Personally, I sweat quite easily, so as a driver I need to concentrate more on nutrition and keeping myself well hydrated. At dry gravel rallies, Friday is always very crucial in terms of making a successful weekend, so that will be the key focus for us. Our hope is that we can deliver a consistent performance, avoid the rocks that could cause punctures, and bring home a podium for the team.”

Dani Sordo

“Sardinia offers a different challenge to previous gravel events this year, as the roads are narrower, more sandy and more slippery. Because of this, you cannot afford to make any mistakes. If you do so in Sardinia, you will pay. Road position can be very important at this event, as starting later in the order usually gives you a cleaner stage than those at the front. The almost 50km-long Monte Lerno stage will be a real challenge. We had one that was 37km in Portugal and even that was hard to stay fully concentrated the entire time. Our minimum goal for the weekend is to finish on the podium and hopefully we can be in a position to fight for the victory.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 05, Rally Italia Sardegna
02-05 June 2022
Dani Sordo, Candido Carrera, Hyundai i20 N Rally 1
Photographer: Dufour Fabien
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

M-Sport Ford WRT

Ott Tänak

“Sardinia is a unique rally in many ways, the roads are demanding with very low grip conditions but at the same time very narrow and fast between trees and rock faces. I always enjoy driving there!

“All the M-Sport team, together with the Ford Performance guys in the US, have been on it to bring on the next steps in our performance and we have a busy test day before Sardinia. We are looking into everything to extract some extra speed.

“The target is to get another step closer to our competitors. Things will take a bit of time, but I’m sure that improving step by step we will be there one moment!”

Pierre-Louis Loubet

“I think with the pace we showed on Friday in Portugal we can expect to do something good in Sardinia. It will be very important to avoid any mistakes this time, as even small ones can have big consequences. We know that the pace is there, we just need to put it all together to get a good result and we’re hoping that will all happen in Sardinia.”

WRC2 Category

Once again there is a huge entry for this category. M-Sport will be running three Fiesta Rally2 cars for Adrien, Grégoire and Robert and of course Oliver Solberg will also be competing in a Skoda Fabia Evo. Also joining these crews will be two cars from Hyundai Motorsport.

Let’s hear from these drivers.

Adrien Fourmaux

“Sardinia is a really rough event, with hot conditions, and this year we have a nearly 50km stage to look forward to! It’ll be a huge challenge for everybody, for the crews and the mechanics. But I like the challenge, and this will be my fifth time in Sardinia, so we have a good base knowledge of the stages.

“This is a famously difficult event, there’s no margin for error with rocks everywhere! When you hit something, you hit it hard. Let’s see what we can achieve.”

Grégoire Munster

“Sardinia is a new event for us, just like Portugal, so it will all be about discovery and gaining experience. Portugal didn’t go so well for us, but it was our first time on gravel in the car, so we will try to use that experience in Sardinia and do better there.”

Robert Virves

“This will be my first time competing in Sardinia, so there will be a lot to learn as it is a very tough event. Luckily, we have had some good experience in Portugal, and we can use a lot of that information on the stages in Sardinia. This is a big opportunity to learn a lot, it’s a tough event and we will need to manage the car and the tyres. But the experience in the Rally2 is all about learning, and it’s all beneficial to us going forward. Let’s see what happens!”

Oliver Solberg

“We’re back based on the east side of the island in Olbia again this year. The roads here are not usually quite so rough, they’re more sandy over here. We need to have a look from the recce – the conditions depend a lot on how hard the winter has been.

“The approach for this event is going to be the same as for the other gravel rallies: we just try to do our job. The car has been nice, it’s been fast and comfortable for me. The key here is really that, you want a comfortable car that’s easy to follow – and you have to make sure the rear of the car’s not sliding too much.”


“The long stage on Friday will be tough,” said Oliver. “It will be tough on the car, the tyres and the body a little bit as well. But I’m looking forward to it. These are great roads and to sit on the start line and know you have to drive a car as cool as the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 as fast as I can for the next 50 kilometres is really something special.

“And, of course, it’s always nice to win a rally my Dad has already won.  For me in Sardinia this week, I will try to do my job, like I have done all year. This has been enough so far.”

Teemu Suninen

“Sardinia is normally quite a lot warmer than other events, which makes the driving tougher and it can create higher levels of wear on the car and tyres. The surface is also hard and rough which can be more demanding for the suspension setups. It was clear in Portugal that the level in WRC2 is very high this year, so we must focus on every small detail and fight on every stage. We will also try to have a good pace and stay away from problems. If we do this, I believe we can get a good result. The goal is to win the rally, but with many top drivers in the class, it will be challenging.”

2023 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 05, Rally de Portugal
11-14 May 2023
Teemu Suninen, Mikko Markkula, i20 N Rally 2
Photographer: Dufour Fabien
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Fabrizio Zaldivar

“We travel to Sardinia looking for a better result than we achieved in Portugal. It will be a difficult challenge, but I am determined to keep pushing and improving. We know there is pace in the Hyundai i20 N Rally2 on this surface, hopefully we can find a good rhythm and show the car’s potential. The initial forecast shows it may not be as hot as last year, but we still expect the heat to play a part in the event. I hope we can come to the end of Rally Italia Sardegna without any incidents and having shown what we are capable of.”


Well, we are set for a cracking rally ahead this weekend! Keep an eye out for my daily reports!

Rally Italia Sardegna 2022 – Day Three Report – Ott and Martin win for Hyundai!

The final day then and 39km over four stages to decide this event. The startlist looked like this – Lappi, Neuville, Evans, Greensmith, Katsuta, Rovanperä, Loubet, Sordo, Breen, Tänak.

First up then was SS18 Cala Flumini 1 – 12.55 km and Ott started the day as he ended Saturday with a stage win from Esapekka and Craig. Takamoto and Gus set the same time for fifth equal in the stage. For those restarting today, think Elfyn, Thierry, for them it was a case of getting through and saving their tyres for the power stage later. Elfyn was twelfth and Thierry twenty-fourth. The only change on the leader board was Jari getting past Chris and into tenth overall.

Onto SS19 Sassari – Argentiera 1 – 7.10 km and Thierry was fastest from Elfyn and Esapekka. The Belgian was looking strong on this one. The overall top three remained unchanged, with Ott fifth, Craig seventh and Dani eighth fastest in the stage.

Ott returned to the top of the timesheets in SS20 Cala Flumini 2 – 12.55 km, with Esapekka and Craig second and third. Chris Ingram in his Fabia was the top Rally2 driver, with eighth fastest. He still remained in eleventh overall.

The final stage then, SS21 Sassari – Argentiera 2 [Power Stage] – 7.10 km and there were changes as usual to the startlist – Ingram (WRC2), Huttunen (WRC2), Solans (WRC2), Gryazin (WRC2), Lappi, Neuville, Evans, Greensmith, Katsuta, Rovanperä, Loubet, Sordo, Breen, Tänak. Esapekka set the early pace, before Thierry came through setting the best time, before Elfyn came through and could not eclipse the Belgian’s time. The championship leader came closest, just 2.3 seconds behind his closest championship challenger. Esapekka and Takamoto completed the top five fastest drivers through the stage.

Final Overall Classification – Rally Italia Sardegna

1 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 N Rally1 3:10:59.1
2 C. Breen P. Nagle Ford Puma Rally1 +1:03.2
3 D. Sordo C. Carrera Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +1:33.0
4 P. L. Loubet V. Landais Ford Puma Rally1 +2:09.4
5 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +3:02.8
6 T. Katsuta A. Johnston Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +4:02.6
7 G. Greensmith J. Andersson Ford Puma Rally1 +5:23.6
8 N. Gryazin K. Aleksandrov Škoda Fabia Evo +7:37.7
9 J. Solans R. Sanjuan Citroën C3 Rally2 +8:05.7
10 J. Huttunen M. Lukka Ford Fiesta MkII +8:10.8

2022 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 05, Rally Italia Sardegna
02-05 June 2022
Dani Sordo, Candido Carrera, Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Julien Moncet
Photographer: Dufour Fabien
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Let’s hear from the drivers

Hyundai Motorsport

Ott Tänak (1st)

“I am very happy to take this victory, especially for all the mechanics and people in the team who have put in an incredible effort to prepare for this new generation. It’s been a challenging time, but we have shown that hard work pays off. This has not been an easy rally, so the team has done a good job to keep the car going. We have made some steps since Portugal; we’ve improved the car performance and our feeling with it. There’s no doubt that when we have the confidence, we can do a good job. We need to keep working in this direction.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 05, Rally Italia Sardegna
2-5 June 2022
Ott Tanak
Photographer: Austral
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Dani Sordo (3rd)

“This is a very motivating result for the whole team, and I am pleased to score another podium for them. I am here with the target of competing for points, and to support our team’s fightback in the championship. Ott’s win and my third place has helped us to close the gap, which was the objective this weekend. Honestly, it would have been nice to fight more closely with Craig, but he had amazing speed and I didn’t want to take any risks. We lost some time in some stages, especially in the dust on Friday morning, but we achieved what we came for and we have to be happy with that.’

Thierry Neuville (41st)

“Looking at the positives, we have seen a strong team result this weekend. The victory is an important reward for the team after all the effort they have put in. On our side, unfortunately it’s another rally where we’re left thinking what might have been. It’s disappointing, of course, but we’ve continued to push hard, and we’ve been often on the limit. To be competitive, we really need to get everything working together across the whole event. The car performance is there, it’s not 100%, but somehow despite the struggles we have shown that we can set some fastest times. We gave it everything, and we could at least take maximum points from the Power Stage.”


M-Sport Ford WRT

Craig Breen (2nd)

“Obviously it’s been a great weekend, really happy with how everything went. It was important that we got a good result here after a couple of difficult rallies. So we’re definitely feeling better, and looking forward to Kenya now, having this good result in the bag should give us a bit more confidence.”

Pierre-Louis Loubet (4th)

“Really happy about this weekend for only the third race with the car and the team, we can be proud about what we’ve done. Thanks to everybody, they did a fantastic job to build such a nice guy, so to the mechanics and to everyone, thank you a lot.”

Gus Greensmith (7th)

“Obviously not a good weekend at all, really struggled to find a good feeling with the car for some reason this weekend, and could just never really find the confidence. So, we spent a lot of the weekend just trying new things, looking towards Kenya, and today on the penultimate stage that was the first time I felt comfortable with the car, and the speed showed it. At least we’ve gone in the right direction, but yeah, not a great weekend.”

Jari Huttunen (3rd WRC2)

“We’re quite happy. Especially on the pace, it is there, and there was a really nice feeling. I don’t know what it is, maybe back luck with the two punctures, and we lost quite a lot of time, but not really any more problems with the car, so overall we’re quite happy. “Our next event is Estonia, it’s difficult to say now, but hopefully we can make a good impression there also, but for sure it is a bit more difficult than this event.”

Adrien Fourmaux (DNF)

“It was a disappointing end to what was looking to be a strong weekend for the team. The plan for this event was to collect some good points for the team, which we were on track to do, but unfortunately a small mistake resulted in an accident. “I’d like to apologise to the team and thank them for their hard work over the weekend.”


Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Esapekka Lappi (5th)

“Today we tried something a bit different to help the team for the next rally in Kenya and I think the changes worked really well. Considering we were opening the road, it felt really good. The speed has been great on this event, as it has been on every surface so far this year, and that means that the car is easy to drive. We just need to put it together. Yesterday I think we were a bit unlucky but that’s how rallying is sometimes: you get surprises. We’ll try to take the positive things from this rally into our next event.”

Elfyn Evans (40th)

“Today we were aiming towards the Power Stage and although we didn’t come away with as many points as we would have liked, some points is better than none. It’s another difficult weekend for us but there were at least some positives to take away from it, with some good moments inside the car in terms of stage times and in terms of feeling once again. The speed was quite good at many points but things just didn’t go our way. Now we try to improve for Kenya.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 05 / Rally d’Italia Sardegna 2022 / 02-05 June, 2022 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä (44th)

“We knew that today our only goal was to reach the end and try to score some extra points on the Power Stage. The feeling was not as good as I would have liked and it was quite tough but we still managed to be second-fastest, so four more points, together with fifth place on the rally. It was a tough weekend. We just knew that we had to be clever because results like this can be important when we count the points at the end of the year. We scored more than our nearest rival in the championship so we can be quite happy with that.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers’ Standings
After Round Five

1 K. Rovanperä 120
2 T. Neuville 65
3 O. Tänak 62
4 C. Breen 52
5 T. Katsuta 47
6 E. Evans 39
7 D. Sordo 34
8 S. Loeb 27
9 G. Greensmith 26
10 S. Ogier 19
11 P. Loubet 18
12 E. Lappi 17
13 A. Mikkelsen 12
14 O. Solberg 8


2022 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers’ Standings
After Round Five

1 Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team 200
2 Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team 161
3 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 120
4 Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team NG 53


Well, what a fantastic result for Ott and Martin, taking only their third win for Hyundai. Yes, that is true, and a huge result for the 2019 world champions. They also have taken over three hundred stage wins now.

2022 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 05, Rally Italia Sardegna
2-5 June 2022
Ott Tanak
Photographer: Austral
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Given that Craig had not driven this rally since 2018 for Citroen Racing, he had a fantastic result with second overall. A stage win on Saturday, which kept Dani at arm’s length showed how comfortable he is getting with his Puma, and will give him and Paul confidence for later in the season with the rallies that he knows.

Dani won this rally twice in 2019 and 2020, and showed again why Hyundai continue to keep him as one of their drivers. He used his experience to move away from Pierre-Louis and secure a well-deserved third place and boosting the team with some good points in their fight for the manufacturer’s championship.


Next up is Round Six, Safari Rally Kenya held from the 23rd to the 26th of June! We already know that Seb Loeb will be driving for M-Sport Ford and so it will be very interesting to see how he gets on. Really any of the teams could take the victory in the African wilds. Make sure you keep an eye out for my preview just before.

Rally Italia Sardegna – Day Two Report – Ott and Martin lead for Hyundai!

This was going to be an important day to get through, with no mid-day service and eight stages for the crews to tackle. They were split into two loops, which meant that there were new stages in the afternoon. Elfyn and Scott returned to competition and would be first on the road. Here is the startlist for Saturday – Evans, Greensmith, Neuville, Rovanperä, Katsuta, Fourmaux, Sordo, Breen, Loubet, Tänak, Lappi.

First up then, SS10 Tempio Pausania 1 – 12.03 km and Ott was fastest from Craig and Thierry. There was huge drama though as Esapekka came through, clipped a rock and pinballed off the bank at the side of the road, ripping a rear wheel off the GR Yaris and the Finn was out for the day. Thierry was on a big push to catch the cars ahead, closing the very large gap to Kalle ahead but still 39 seconds behind the championship leader. Craig was now in second and Dani held third overall after passing Pierre-Louis who was now 2.3 seconds behind the Spaniard.

Next was SS11 Erula – Tula 1 – 15.27 km and it was a 1-2-3 for Hyundai with Ott fastest from Thierry and Dani. Takamoto had a stall in the stage and dropped one place behind Kalle who was now up to sixth place.

Craig took his Puma to a stage win in SS12 Tempio Pausania 2 – 12.03 km with Ott and Pierre-Louis second and third in the stage. The big news from this stage though, was that Thierry rolled his i20 and although he and Martijn got the car back on its wheels, it was clear that they could not continue and retired in the stage.

Ott came back in SS13 Erula – Tula 2 – 15.27 km with the fastest time from Dani and Craig. Kalle had a little spin in this one, setting the eighth best time but still maintaining sixth overall. The stage winner was starting to really build on his lead, the gap now over 30 seconds.

After the break Ott also won SS14 Coiluna – Loelle 1 – 21.60 km with Kalle and Craig second and third. Elfyn showed the pace that we briefly saw yesterday with the fifth best time, despite being the first car into the stage. Ott’s lead over Craig was now approaching 40 seconds, whilst the Puma driver was moving further ahead of Dani.

Into SS15 Monte Lerno di Pattada 1 – 17.01 km and It was another stage win for the Estonian crew, with Dani and Elfyn second and third. Ott’s lead was now 45 seconds over Craig, and he said that he wasn’t even pushing hard, but clearly, he was very comfortable in his i20 and he could show his best pace.

Just two stages left then, and Ott won SS16 Coiluna – Loelle 2 – 21.60 km as well. Craig and Kalle were second and third in the stage. Unfortunately, Elfyn stopped again with a problem with his rear suspension. Meanwhile, Takamoto was getting through the stages in the best was possible after first damaging the aero and then the radiator later in the water splash.

The final stage then, SS17 Monte Lerno di Pattada 2 – 17.01 km and first to complete was Gus. Next through was Kalle and Takamoto. It all changed with the next crew though, as Adrien lost control of his Puma and ended up beached on the edge of the road with the rear in the trees lining the right-hand side of the stage. The stage was red flagged, but in the meantime, Dani had started the stage, so he had to slow down. Once Adrien was moved to a safe spot, the stage was restarted and Craig, Pierre-Louis and Ott started the stage, but the only one that completed the at a competitive pace was the Frenchman. There was some confusion for both Craig and Ott, who both got shown the red flag again and slowed accordingly. In the end the three drivers that slowed, were given a notional time.

Classification after Day Two

1 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 N Rally1 2:43:35.6
2 C. Breen P. Nagle Ford Puma Rally1 +46.0
3 D. Sordo C. Carrera Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +1:06.8
4 P. L. Loubet V. Landais Ford Puma Rally1 +1:31.8
5 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +2:23.2
6 T. Katsuta A. Johnston Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +3:52.3
7 G. Greensmith J. Andersson Ford Puma Rally1 +5:03.3

Let’s hear from the drivers

Hyundai Motorsport

Ott Tänak (1st)

“Today was very good, I had a great feeling in the car, and I was able to control things. It’s been quite a long time since we had a run like that, to be honest. It was a bit more challenging when the conditions were hot, especially at lunchtime, otherwise the roads were holding up well. It was enjoyable. In the first stage this morning, when Esapekka was still in the fight, we gave it a good push. We wanted to start well. After that, we were step by step kind of slowing down but the times kept coming. If you are in the right mood and rhythm that’s how it should be. We had a few driveability issues at times, but that seems to be related to the temperature; when it cooled down it became better again. We’ve been in this position before, and we know anything can still happen. It’s not over until the finish line is crossed.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 05, Rally Italia Sardegna
02-05 June 2022
Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Hyundai i20 N Rally 1
Photographer: Dufour Fabien
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Dani Sordo (3rd)

“We had some good luck to be here at the end of the day in one piece – we had a few moments today. It was a mixed day for us. We lost some time on the more slippery stages and we need to work a bit in this area. On the second pass, things were generally better. We had a problem in the SS16 water splash. I went in a bit fast, and water came into the car. For a moment, I thought we’d stop there but thankfully the engine started running again and we could complete the stage. The battle with Craig for second was nice, but he had a really good day and was faster than me, so it will be difficult to catch him. We don’t have many kilometres left tomorrow. We want to fight with no problems, while also keeping Loubet behind. Let’s see if our good fortune continues until the end of the rally.”

Thierry Neuville (SuperRally)

“After the disappointment of Friday’s technical issue, our target this morning was to go out there, give it a big push and have some fun. We made an aggressive tyre strategy and went hard on the opening stages. The tyres felt good, and the first two times were interesting. Unfortunately, we went a bit over the limit on the third one. I got caught out at a slow right-hander; I was late on the brakes, I climbed up the embankment and rolled the car. We kept going but I couldn’t make it to the end, and we had to retire for the day. Our rally was basically over yesterday but we wanted to continue fighting, not only for us but also for the team and mechanics, who always do an incredible job. We knew it would be a risk, especially when trying to make the impossible possible. We will be back in action tomorrow when we’ll be giving it everything to take maximum points in the Power Stage.”


Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä (6th)

“This morning especially was quite tricky with low grip and technical stages we couldn’t do too much. But we managed to just keep our own pace and then in the afternoon we could start to be a bit faster. We changed some small things on the car and I was able to find a bit more grip and feeling. That made the afternoon a bit more enjoyable. The plan was to stay out of trouble and this meant we were able to gain some places with others dropping out. Tomorrow the aim will be similar until the Power Stage and then we’ll see what we can do there.”

Elfyn Evans (SuperRally)

“Today we knew it was going to be a difficult day opening the road and it’s never easy to set good times from the front. So really it was just an opportunity to learn more about the car on gravel and use it as a test session, and everything was going quite OK actually. Then in the penultimate stage unfortunately something broke at the rear after an impact, but we didn’t lose too much from that. Tomorrow the main aim is to see what we can do from our position on the Power Stage and try to take some points if we can.”

Esapekka Lappi (SuperRally)

“This morning we didn’t change the rhythm from yesterday and the beginning of the first stage went pretty cleanly. We weren’t taking any risks. But in this narrow section there was a stone on the ground which threw us off the line – only slightly, but it was enough to make us hit the wall on the right and then a tree on the other side. It is pretty hard to accept because we were not going particularly fast. But this stage is very tricky and narrow and clearly in some places it was pretty rough as well. I had been feeling really comfortable in the car and we will see if we can try to find that feeling again tomorrow.”


Just 39km’s over four stages for the crews to tackle. Can Ott hold on and take a well-deserved victory?

Rally Italia Sardegna 2022 – Day One Report – Esapekka and Janne lead!

The first full day then and the startlist was taken from before Thursday’s evening stage. Rovanperä, Neuville, Breen, Tänak, Katsuta, Greensmith, Evans, Lappi, Loubet, Fourmaux, Sordo. After the evening stage, SS1 Olbia – Cabu Abbas – 3.23 km, Thierry held the lead from Takamoto and Elfyn.

The first full day then and with 133km’s over eight stages, it would be a challenging day out there. The day would also have the longest stage of the weekend.

First up was SS2 Terranova 1 – 14.19 km and Elfyn was fastest, from Pierre-Louis and Ott. Three different cars in the top spots! All three moved up positions, with Elfyn moving up two places and into the lead, Ott gaining four and into second and Pierre-Louis jumped eight places and into third! The young Frenchman was showing great form, just like last time out in Portugal.

The lead changed at the end of SS3 Monti di Alà e Buddusò 1 – 24.70 km with Esapekka moving up four places and into the lead. The Finn won the stage from Craig and Ott. There was disaster for Elfyn though whose GS Yaris was suffering from a loss of water pressure, and the Welshman retired for the day after the stage. The M-Sport drivers had a mixed stage, the highlight being lead driver, Craig whose time took him ahead of his teammate Pierre-Louis, whilst Adrien dropped back despite setting the fourth best time in the stage. It was a different situation for Gus though who suffered a half-spin and trouble restarting his Puma. The Brit sadly fell to 25th from 10th.

It was all change in SS4 Terranova 2 – 14.19 km as Dani won the stage from Ott and Thierry. The Estonian’s pace took him ahead of Esapekka and into the lead after the Finn could only manage the fifth best time. The gap between them was tiny though, at just nine tenths of a second. Pierre-Louis moved up to third overall, after Kalle suffered a spin and took off his rear wing!

The final stage then before the service break, SS5 Monti di Alà e Buddusò 2 – 24.70 km and Dani took the stage win from M-Sport duo Craig and Pierre-Louis! The top two overall remained the same, with Ott setting the fourth best time from Esapekka who was fifth in the stage. Meanwhile, Thierry had transmission failure, with the result that he now only had front wheel drive. The Belgian dropped down from sixth to tenth. At least there was a service break now for the team to fix the problems.

After the break SS6 Osilo – Tergu 1 – 14.63 km was won by Ott with Esapekka in second and Craig the third fastest time, although he did have a lockup into a left hander just before the bridge, sliding into a bank. Never the less, the Irishman moved up into third place, passing Pierre-Louis.

Into SS7 Sedini – Castelsardo 1 – 13.26 km then and what turned out to be the final stage of the day, and the top three were Esapekka, Dani and Adrien. There was a change again in the leaders, with the stage winner taking the lead and Ott dropping back to second. Pierre-Louis was also gaining places, moving back ahead of Craig and into third again.

Classification after Day One


1 E. Lappi J. Ferm Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 1:10:41.9
2 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +0.7
3 P. L. Loubet V. Landais Ford Puma Rally1 +15.1
4 C. Breen P. Nagle Ford Puma Rally1 +15.5
5 D. Sordo C. Carrera Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +16.1
6 A. Fourmaux A. Coria Ford Puma Rally1 +30.8
7 T. Katsuta A. Johnston Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +1:05.5
8 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +1:13.1
9 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +2:07.2


Let’s hear from the drivers.

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Esapekka Lappi (1st)

“I thought we could be close to the front at the end of today but not necessarily to be leading, so it’s been a good day and I’m really satisfied. It’s been three years since I’ve been leading after a Friday and it feels very good. We started at a safe pace, also because of the hanging dust, but then when it was clear we could push like normal. On this rally you can’t drive at 100 per cent all the time but I think we were consistently at 90 per cent and that was the key today. The most important thing was to secure a good road position for tomorrow and now we have the best position possible, so it’s job done for today and let’s continue like this tomorrow.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 05 / Rally d’Italia Sardegna 2022 / 02-05 June, 2022 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä (8th)

“Today was difficult as we expected, more so in the afternoon. The stages we did this morning were a bit more sandy so it was not so bad to be the first car in some places. We made a few mistakes and lost a bit of time but otherwise it was OK. In the afternoon there was really a lot of loose gravel so it was very slippery. But we managed to get through it. Tomorrow is a long day without any service and it’s going to be tough conditions, so anything can happen. As fourth car on the road it should be a bit better and we’ll try and gain some positions.”

Elfyn Evans (55th)

“The feeling was quite good in the car this morning. The opening stage was difficult with the amount of dust but the time was good. Then, in the second stage, we had quite a bad compression through a dip in the road that caught us by surprise and damaged the underside of the car. We started to get some warnings in the car and tried to manage it as best as we could until the end of the stage. But after that, when we investigated it further, it was quite clear it was too difficult to repair at the side of the road in the time we had. It was disappointing for our day to end so early but we’ll get back out there tomorrow and try to take what we can from the weekend.”

Hyundai Motorsport

Ott Tänak (2nd)

“Today’s focus was all about getting a good road position for tomorrow’s stages, and we have achieved that. The guys we are fighting are around us on the order, so the game is much fairer. We had some extreme Sardinia stages this morning between the trees and at high speed; in these places with limited visibility, you can only keep your fingers crossed. We survived the morning and the car felt better on the second loop. In the afternoon, it was a bit more difficult. It was as if the car had three-wheel drive on the final run, which affected the braking and acceleration. The two cancelled stages gave us a chance to bring the car back to service and get it all checked out for tomorrow. We need to go out and fight for the win.”

2022 FIA World Rally Championship Round 05,
Rally Italia Sardegna 2022, 2-5 June 2022
Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Hyundai i20 N Rally1, Action during Day 1 of WRC Rally Italia Sardegna 2022
Photographer: Romain Thuillier
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Dani Sordo (5th)

“We’ve had a good first ‘proper’ day and we are again in the podium fight. We lost a lot of time on the opening stages with the dust, which put us far from the lead, but we’ve come back a bit since. Without that, we’d be a lot closer for sure. I think overall we are performing better than in Portugal if you look at the times. I have completed more kilometres in the car, but I still need some time to adapt; the cars weigh more, it’s a different way of driving, braking points aren’t the same, that sort of thing. Overall, we are in promising shape, and we have a long day tomorrow. We’ll keep pushing for the podium.”

Thierry Neuville (9th)

“It was not a great day. We lost the rear drive at the end of the morning and had to do the stage with front wheel drive. The team needs to investigate what happened exactly. It’s sad because I had a better and better feeling from the car, and we were getting closer to the top places. It is what it is, we’re ninth but two minutes from the lead, which means our rally is effectively over. We did the two afternoon stages as best we could, but nothing really changed. Anything can happen, of course. It’s going to be a rough day tomorrow, and I wish my team-mates the best of luck in their fight for the win. The manufacturer points are just as important as the driver ones. From my side, I’ll see how things go; if I feel good in the car, I’ll try to push and have some fun.”


Well, what an incredible first day we have had. Lots of lead changes and yet another problem for Elfyn as well. He’ll restart tomorrow and target getting points in the powerstage on Sunday. Tomorrow sees 131km’s over eight stages, and no mid-day service. Getting to the end of the day will be very tricky.

Pop back at the end of tomorrow to check out my day two report.

Rally de Italia Sardegna 2022 Preview – Jumping in the Dust!

Just two weeks after the completion of Rally de Portugal, the teams move to the fifth round of this year’s championship on the island of Sardegna. Hyundai are hoping for a good result in this rally, having won with Dani Sordo in 2019 and 2020.

This year there are 307km’s over 21 stages. Shakedown and the first stage take place on Thursday. Saturday sees the crews face eight stages with no service break. This will make this year’s event very challenging.

The seaside rally returns to Alghero for 2022 and begins on Thursday with Shakedown, followed by a brand-new single super special stage in the evening. Friday will see crews tackle two passes of four stages, including the rally’s longest, totalling 133.56km in distance. Saturday’s itinerary is similar in length, covering a distance of 131.82km across eight stages. The event will wrap up on Sunday with four final stages, including the Power Stage, which offers additional points to those who finish in the top five.

Let’s hear from the drivers

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä

“Sardinia will be another tough rally. The stages there have been tricky for me in the past but last year I had a better feeling even though we had some issues during the weekend. Hopefully this year we can enjoy the stages and be fast. If the conditions are hot and dry like normal, I think it could be more difficult for us to fight for the win from first on the road than in Portugal, but the target will be the same: to do the best job we can. We go there knowing that we have a good base with the car on gravel and although we need to focus on making it even better, we are already in a good place.”

Elfyn Evans

“It was good to get a strong result on the board in Portugal and although I wasn’t fully satisfied with the weekend, it gives us something to build on in Sardinia. As a team we showed that we have a great starting point with the car on gravel and I think we can still improve some things for the next event. It helps to have two rallies in succession that are relatively similar in character, although the roads in Sardinia tend to have a harder base than the typical stages in Portugal. The weather is likely to be even hotter, so it is going to be a challenging weekend for the cars and the drivers.”

Esapekka Lappi

“It was great to see the performance of the GR YARIS Rally1 on gravel in Portugal and this has certainly made me more excited for next week. Of course, I’ve not had as much time in the car on gravel as the others but the feeling has been good so far and it looks like the team has done a really good job. I’ve always liked going to Sardinia; the location and the weather is really nice and I had some good rallies there when I was last with the team. So, I’m really looking forward to it. Our starting position will be good for the Friday and I hope we can fight for the top four or even a podium.”

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville

“Having claimed a couple of wins in Sardinia, it is always an event I enjoy. The Hyundai cars have been strong there in the past and hopefully this year we can repeat this form. You must expect anything and everything from this rally; it’s quite tough on the cars when it is hot, and there could be some rain occasionally, which might help us. It is a very demanding event with long days, where we will be waking up very early and finishing late, so it will be challenging. It is one of the most technical gravel rallies in the calendar: the roads are quite narrow and twisty. There is no room for mistakes, so you have to be really on it and keep the car on the clean line. The grip can be quite high, especially on the second pass, but also the road conditions can be rough.”

Ott Tänak

“Sardinia is another tough gravel event, but one I am looking forward to taking on. Overall, it is quite demanding, with high temperatures and rough roads. The heat also makes it very hot in the car, so this is something we need to get used to as well. We have shown that we can compete for the podium if we can avoid issues and have a clean rally, so we are targeting a smooth weekend fighting at the front. Last year at Rally Italia Sardegna, we were battling for the win for most of the event, and we would very much like to be doing the same this time. We hope to use our learnings from Rally de Portugal to help us improve and get a strong result.”

2021 FIA World Rally Championship
Rally Italia Sardegna 2021 3-6 June 2021
Dani Sordo, Borja Rozada, WRC, Action during Day 2 of Rally Italia Sardegna 2021
Photographer: Romain Thuillier
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Dani Sordo

“Rally Italia Sardegna is always a really nice event for me. I feel comfortable there; I like both the roads and the location. Last year we didn’t have a lot of luck, as I made a small mistake and we went off, but the previous year was strong and I hope this year will be the same. The rally has very narrow roads, and the outer line can also be slippery, so you have to be clever and careful to stay in the lines; if you go wide, you can hit some large stones. It’s also normal to adjust the set-up of the car between the first and second pass here because of the difference in grip – in the first it is low, in the second quite high. Having two rallies in quick succession is very demanding after my break in competition, but I am really motivated.”

Teemu Suninen (WRC2)

“Rally Italia Sardinia is one of the hardest gravel rallies on calendar. I would describe its nature as mid speed; the rhythm changes quite a lot as a result of a lot of junctions and we have to adapt to the different type of roads very quickly. Normally they are quite narrow and there is no room for any errors, as there is a lot of stones and trees just next to road. The gravel is quite abrasive and we have to manage tyre wear very well. The weather doesn’t make the challenge any easier – it can be really warm, sometimes above 35°C, which puts more stress on the car and the crews too.”

Fabrizio Zaldivar (WRC2)

“Having now completed my first WRC2 event, the goal for Sardinia is definitely to continue to improve. I learned a lot in Portugal with the Hyundai i20 N Rally2; the car can be very competitive and reliable, which will be decisive in Sardinia. This weekend we will have our pre-event test in Italy. I think the kilometres we have done, many of which were in extreme conditions, gave us good information. Sardinia can be incredibly tough at times, with a mix of challenging stages, high temperatures and long road sections. Our category is incredibly competitive, but our objective is always the same: to improve our performance and scoring a lot of points for the team.”

M-Sport Ford WRT

Craig Breen

“Really looking forward to Sardinia, it hasn’t been very long since the rally in Portugal but I’m happy with what we learned there, I think we’ve learned a lot during the weekend and it’s given us food for thought. I’m hoping that we can put that into practice already early on in Sardinia, we have a better road position starting on Friday, so let’s try to make the biggest advantage we can of that.

“It’s a rally I haven’t done for a few years, but the stages are a mix of old and new, but I like what I’ve seen from the onboards, and I think it’ll be a rally that’ll suit us. Let’s attack it as best we can, we obviously want to get ourselves back on track again and gain some good points, and start making some more inroads into our championship progress.”

Gus Greensmith

“It’s a very quick turnaround between Portugal and Sardinia, so it’s a nice feeling to get back on the road and get out to Sardinia. It’s a very similar rally to Portugal, probably more on the rougher side, but we’re expecting temperatures to be very high.

“All should be good, the cars are set up very well I think, we’re not doing a test, but it’s not the most critical of the year. I’m really looking forward to it, hoping to make the most of a good weekend and get a good result.”

Pierre-Louis Loubet

“I’m really happy to be going to Sardinia, it’s one of my favourite rallies and one of my favourite places and it’s very close to home. We hope to have the same pace we had in Portugal on the Friday, with a pace like this I think we can hope for a good result, and to continue to build the confidence for the rest of the season, and tackle it step-by-step.”

Adrien Fourmaux

“I’m very happy to be back in Sardinia, it will be my fourth time doing the rally, but the first time competing in a top-level WRC car. So, it’ll be quite a big challenge for me, but we’ve taken the experience from Portugal and the feeling with the car was good. We hope to get a better result and score some points on this rally, and of course enjoy our time on such a beautiful island.”

Jari Huttunen, (WRC2)

“I’m looking forward to getting out on the roads in Sardinia, I enjoy gravel events and we had a good result on the event last year, so hoping to do the same again. It is a challenging event, and my first gravel event this season with M-Sport, but I am happy to be back and hope we can score some good points for the championship.”



Well, what a challenging rally we are set for. Saturday with it’s 131km over eight stages and no mid-day service will be key to the event, and the likely podium finishers will be the crews that make it through that day with the least problems. Now, who can take the win? Well, it’s hard to look past the crews that are in the lower half of the championship standings. They will have a road advantage that will allow them to set the pace.

Rally Italia Sardegna 2021 – Seb and Julien take victory

There was more drama on the Island of Sardegna. Here’s the story of how Seb and Julien came through to take an impressive win.


The start list looked like this – Ogier, Evans, Neuville, Tänak, Rovanperä, Katsuta, Sordo, Greensmith, Suninen, Loubet.

Into the first stage then, SS1 Filigosu – Sa Conchedda 1 – 22.29 km and just like in Portugal Ott was fast out of the blocks, winning the stage from Kalle and Seb. Actually, the Frenchman’s pace considering he was first on the road was pretty impressive to be only 9.6 seconds from the lead. The day didn’t start as well however for Elfyn who was just not comfortable out there. The fight was on for the lead between Ott and Kalle. At M-Sport it didn’t go well for Teemu who went off the road and was stuck and out for the day.

Ott also took SS2 Terranova 1 – 14.36 km from Seb and Kalle. Further down the leaderboard, Elfyn was making some progress, moving ahead of Thierry and into sixth, but the Welshman definitely wanted more.

The Estonian continued his top pace at the front winning SS3 Filigosu – Sa Conchedda 2 – 22.29 km, winning the stage from Dani and Kalle. In fact, the double winner for the last two years found that his pace brought him into third overall as well, with Seb dropping to fourth, but certainly not out for the fight for a podium. Thierry was also on the move up the leaderboard, passing Elfyn for sixth.

The final stage of the morning and yes, you guessed it. Ott was fastest again in SS4 Terranova 2 – 14.36 km from Dani and Seb. Sadly, Kalle’s time at the top of the standings came to an end as he suffered a technical problem with his Yaris. Now everyone except for Thierry moved up one place but the Belgian managed to gain two positions, moving from sixth to fourth in one go.

After the service break, Ott continued his winning form setting the fastest time in SS5 Tempio Pausania 1 – 12.08 km from Seb and Thierry. Fourth fastest was Elfyn, who was finding some rhythm out there, and this moved him ahead of Takamoto who suffered a stall in the stage and the Welshman moved into fifth overall. With the departure of Teemu earlier, Gus was holding his own out there and sat in seventh overall.

The next stage, SS6 Erula – Tula 1 – 14.97 km saw Dani go fastest from Ott and Seb and this meant the Spaniard moved ahead of the world champion and into second overall. Meanwhile, Thierry and Elfyn continued their fight for fourth overall, with the Belgian holding a resurgent Elfyn at bay for now.

Dani also took SS7 Tempio Pausania 2 – 12.08 km, but his teammate was just three tenths off and the gap between them remained a large 25 seconds. Elfyn broke into the top three for the first time and with Thierry just seventh fastest after getting a puncture, the Welshman moved into fourth overall. Gus also had a great stage, going fifth fastest.

The final stage then, SS8 Erula – Tula 2 – 14.97 km, and Dani was equal quickest with Thierry and Ott third. The Belgian would have been quicker if he’s not stalled in the stage. The Hyundai drivers had won every stage of day one, putting the good road position to good use. The fact that two Toyota drivers held third and fourth though, meant that they were in a good position to benefit from problems. There was drama for Gus however, as just after the start of the stage for him, he suffered transmission failure and he couldn’t complete. A big shame as he had driven really well all day.

Classification after Day One

1 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 1:26:58.0
2 D. Sordo B. Rozada Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +19.4
3 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Toyota Yaris WRC +36.2
4 E. Evans S. Martin Toyota Yaris WRC +1:02.0
5 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +1:03.2
6 T. Katsuta D. Barritt Toyota Yaris WRC +1:26.1


Let’s hear from the drivers

Hyundai Motorsport

Ott Tänak (1st)

“Generally, it has not been a bad day for us. Things ran quite smoothly, and I had a nice feeling with the car since the beginning. I was able to maintain a good rhythm and to enjoy myself, pushing at the same time. Knowing the road order of our rivals, we knew it was definitely our opportunity to build up a gap. Apart from the final stage, when we had a bit of a tyre scare, I would say it’s been good, and we could achieve what we wanted. It also showed us that we always need to keep going, to grow the gap as much as possible, and so we will keep pushing tomorrow.”

Dani Sordo (2nd)

“I am pleased to end this opening day in second place. On the whole, we have had a positive Friday, with some small issues in the morning turning into a competitive afternoon. On the opening stages, I was not too happy with my pace notes. There were some places where I missed confidence and lost time as a result. There were some new profile stages, which made things more difficult and identified areas where we needed to improve. We had to manage our tyres well and couldn’t push like crazy. The car was moving around a lot on the softs, so with the hard compounds in the afternoon I felt more confident in myself, with improved grip and better pace notes; everything was a step forward. I also knew the stages from previous years, which really gave me the extra confidence I needed. A long way to go, but I’m satisfied with how we’ve started the rally.”

2021 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 05, Rally de Portugal
3-6 June 2021
Ott Tanak
Photographer: Austral
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Thierry Neuville (5th)

“It was a difficult day for us. I struggled with confidence in the first stages. I didn’t get a good feeling, so we decided to go progressively throughout the day to get the speed. We changed a lot on the car, we went in the right direction with the settings. The car was a bit stiff this morning and we couldn’t get the traction, but things worked better this afternoon. Unfortunately, two punctures cost us a huge amount of time. I think we would have been able to close the gap to Sébastien without them. As a result, we lost a position on the road order for Saturday, but this rally is not over and maybe tomorrow is a positive turn and we might be free of issues.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Sébastien Ogier (3rd)

“It’s been a very good day for us, I can be very happy with what we’ve done. The morning was especially strong. We were driving on two new stages and I think this helped us to make the difference. With Julien, we did a good job on the recce and had good pacenotes, and I felt confident and able to push. I was also very happy with the car, as we did some good setup changes after Portugal. This afternoon was a bit tougher, as I had expected, but most importantly we’re third overall and that will give us a better start position tomorrow. It’s a big gap to the leader, but it was a very strong performance for us today, so let’s see what we can do.”

2021 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 05 / Rally d’Italia Sardegna / 3-6 May, 2021 // Worldwide Copyright: McKlein

Elfyn Evans (4th)

“It was not a good start for us at all this morning. I struggled with the feeling in the car: We made a few changes after Portugal to try and improve things a bit, but it didn’t give me the confidence level that I had before, so it was difficult to settle down into a good rhythm. Things were definitely working better in the afternoon and I felt happier in the car. I was not so happy with the stage times still, but at least things are moving in the right direction and we’ll try to build on that tomorrow.”

Kalle Rovanperä (DNF SuperRally)

“It was a really nice start this morning. I had a good feeling in the car again and we could be back on a good pace. It felt really good; I didn’t even need to push so much, so it was really enjoyable. Then on SS4 we had an issue and had to stop. It’s sad that the day ended in this way because it was going well before that. But the team will be able to fix the car so we can restart tomorrow and try to find a similar feeling again for the rest of the rally.”

M-Sport Ford WRT

Gus Greensmith (DNF, SuperRally)

“To be honest, I’ve been quite happy with what I’m doing. We lacked a bit of pace in the first couple of stages because we didn’t have any opportunity to test here before the event and so we went with the same setup that we used in Portugal 10 days ago.

“At the start of the day, our suspension was too soft for the road conditions, which meant that I was lacking a bit of precision in the corners and didn’t want to push too hard. We were able to make a few adjustments on the road and you can see from the times that everything felt a lot better and we got a lot closer to the pace of the leaders, so overall it was a big positive.

“The stages are incredibly rough. At one point we actually had the jack break loose over some of the roughest ground, it broke the mount and the loose jack then caused an oil spillage near the exhaust but we got that cleaned up before there was a fire.

Other than that, the Fiesta was flawless until the final stage start, when the transmission unfortunately just took too much of a beating. I’m devastated as a top-five finish was absolutely within the car, and we will be going all-out when we restart tomorrow to show that same pace.”

Teemu Suninen (DNF, SuperRally)

“I pulled the handbrake and stalled the engine and then I really had no power to pull through the corner so just slid wide by two metres and we got stuck. The car started to get quite hot and we lost one sensor, after which it wasn’t running anymore. It should be quite an easy fix, basically from the outside of the car there’s just one mirror missing, but sadly we weren’t able to carry on today.

“The Ford Fiesta WRC felt so good, the difference between Rally1 and Rally2 is something really special, I was sure that a top five finish was possible.

“Fortunately, we will be able to restart tomorrow and although the prospect of good points has gone, I believe we can show the true potential pace that we have throughout the next two days and show how fast the car is through these stages. “

Adrien Fourmaux (DNF, SuperRally)

“It was a small mistake this morning, which was in part inexperience on gravel. Unfortunately, there was a big stone in the verge on the inside of the bend where I tried too tight a line, which meant that our battle for victory in WRC2 ended on the second stage of the rally.

“We will restart under SuperRally tomorrow and I hope to show some good stage times as we make a recovery.

I’m really sorry to the team and all our partners that we won’t be in the fight for victory this weekend but I am confident that with the repairs made by the team today we will be able to show the performance of the Ford Fiesta Rally2 is on all surfaces.”


Start list looked like this – Suninen, Rovanperä, Greensmith, Loubet, Katsuta, Neuville, Evans, Ogier, Sordo, Tänak.

Ott picked up at the same pace that we saw from the Estonian in SS9 Coiluna – Loelle 1 – 15.00 km and he won the stage from Elfyn with Seb third fastest. The champions pace brought them closer to Dani who was holding second place. In fact, Elfyn, Seb and Thierry who were behind Dani, were all quicker than the Spaniard.

At last, we had a different car and driver winning a stage with Seb winning SS10 Lerno – Monti di Alà 1 – 22.08 km from Ott and Elfyn. Seb’s pace brought him into second overall with Dani falling to third. Elfyn also closed the gap a little to Dani, but the gap remained large at over 20 seconds. Takamoto had a huge moment, whacking a huge rock that was in the middle on the road with the middle of the front of his Yaris! The whole front of the car lifted up, but amazingly they got away with it not causing any big damage.

Elfyn won SS11 Coiluna – Loelle 2 – 15.00 km from Seb and Ott. The Welshman was building a lead over Thierry who was holding fourth place, the gap between them now over ten seconds, whilst also closing on Dani. At M-Sport Gus was going well after his restart, setting the seventh best time, quicker than Takamoto who had a better road position.

There was drama for Ott on the next stage, SS12 Lerno – Monti di Alà 2 – 22.08 km as the Estonian hit a rock on the line! This broke the rear suspension, and that was that. All the hard work had been undone again for the former champions. Top three in the stage was Seb, Thierry and Elfyn and the Belgian closed the gap a little to the third placed Welshman. Another driver to fall from a good position was Gus who stopped in the stage with a mechanical problem.

After the service break the next stage, SS13 Bortigiadas – Aggius – Viddalba 1 – 14.70 km saw Seb take another stage win from Dani and Elfyn and the gap opened up a little between them all. Further down the standings, Jari and Mads battle for the lead in the WRC2 category saw the Finn pass the Norwegian and they held sixth and seventh overall as well.

Top three on SS14 Sedini – Castelsardo 1 – 13.03 km was Seb, Thierry and Elfyn, with Dani fourth, meaning that they both closed a little on the Spaniard who still held second overall. Mads and Jari continued their fight for the WRC2 lead and Mads closed the gap to Jari to just 12.6 seconds.

Into SS15 Bortigiadas – Aggius – Viddalba 2 – 14.70 km saw more drama for Hyundai, with Dani sliding wide and dropping his right wheel into a culvert at the edge of the road, the resulting impact wreaking the tyre and suspension. In fact, it was such a huge impact, that the car was pitched into a roll of sorts and ended up on its side. It was unusual to see the Spaniard to make such a mistake, but it’s worth noting that this stage had not been used since the early 2000’s. Top three in the stage was Seb, Elfyn and Thierry and they also held the top three overall positions.

Now to the final stage of the day, SS16 Sedini – Castelsardo 2 – 13.03 km and Elfyn topped the times from Seb and Thierry. Mads closed the gap even further to Jari to just 2.7 seconds as well, after the Norwegian set a time good enough to place seventh in the stage.

Classification after Day Two

1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2h50m33.1s
2 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC) +38.9s
3 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m01.6s
4 Takamoto Katsuta/Dan Barritt (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4m01.2s
5 Jari Huttunen/Mikko Lukka (Hyundai i20 R5) +8m09.6s
6 Mads Østberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroën C3 Rally2) +8m12.3s
7 Yohan Rossel/Alexandre Coria (Citroën C3 Rally2) +8m57.5s
8 Pepe López/Diego Vallejo (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +9m35.3s
9 Jan Solans/Rodrigo Sanjuan de Eusebio (Citroën C3 Rally2) +9m45.0s
10 Marco Bulacia/Marcelo Der Ohannesian (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +10m13.1s

Let’s hear from the drivers

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Sébastien Ogier (1st)

“So far it’s been a perfect weekend for us. We were really strong yesterday and then today we did everything we had to do. We had good consistent pace this morning and a bit of a different tyre choice, which I think paid off. The chance to take the lead was not solely in my hands, but we took it, and then we had a strong afternoon where we could increase the gap. Now we can try to drive even more safely tomorrow. We have some more new stages tomorrow, so we’ll have to stay focused until the end and finish the job.”

Elfyn Evans (2nd)

“Today has been a good step forward from where we were yesterday. We really had to work hard to overcome the difficulties that we had, and now we’ve managed to find a place where I’m very, very happy in the car. The stages have been difficult and our rivals have had some incidents, and our better pace has meant we’ve moved up to second place. Tomorrow we will still need to be on our best: It will be challenging with the new stages but I’m looking forward to it.”

2021 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 05 / Rally d’Italia Sardegna / 3-6 May, 2021 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä (30th)

“It’s always good to get straight back into the car like we did this morning, and it was good learning for us to experience the conditions as the second car on the road. The morning was actually quite nice: It was a bit damp, so there was not so much road cleaning and I really enjoyed it. The afternoon was more difficult, with tricky stages and a lot of cleaning. Tomorrow we will be aiming for the Power Stage and trying to score some points there. It’s a new stage and a tricky stage, but let’s see what we can do.”

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville (3rd)

“The gap to Elfyn Evans in second place is quite big. I tried to get closer to him on some stages, but I just didn’t have the speed I needed. We tried some settings, changing the dampers among other things, but we couldn’t get everything working together as we needed. I struggled to find the performance despite having the feeling of being on the edge. I haven’t been able to do much more, but tomorrow we will try our hardest and see what we can save from this weekend.”

Dani Sordo (DNF, SuperRally)

“The second day of Rally Italia Sardegna did not go to plan for us. We were involved in a battle for second place but were forced to retire on the penultimate stage. We hit a stone outside the road, something we didn’t see during the recce. We are really disappointed, not only for ourselves, but for the whole team, but sometimes these things happen in rally, and it’s like that. We will now concentrate on what we can achieve tomorrow to try and score some points in the Power Stage.”

2021 FIA World Rally Championship
Rally Italia Sardegna 2021 3-6 June 2021
Dani Sordo, Borja Rozada, WRC, Action during Day 2 of Rally Italia Sardegna 2021
Photographer: Romain Thuillier
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

M-Sport Ford WRT

Gus Greensmith (31st)

“The morning started well. We continued to make good progress with the setup of the car and I was feeling a lot more comfortable this morning. I feel like from my side of things we’ve had a very good day whilst we’ve been out there it seems we’ve been a lot more competitive with our rivals so I’m happy and we can move forward tomorrow to build on that.

“Obviously it’s very frustrating to have had another issue interrupt that progress but from where we started this event to where we are now in terms of pace, I am looking forward to getting out there again tomorrow and getting some more good mileage.”

Adrien Fourmaux (34th)

“It was important that we should put the disappointment of yesterday behind us, and to be able to run at the front and win two stages in WRC2 was really fantastic for us. I’m really happy.

“Of course, it is bittersweet because our pace is strong enough to potentially challenge for the win, were it not for yesterday’s incident, but we have to take pride in what we are achieving and to make sure that we learn from every kilometre to the finish.

“The Ford Fiesta Rally2 has been faultless all day, I was able to feel a really good rhythm in the car and together with the team I think that we have done all that we can to show how strong our performance collectively.”

Teemu Suninen (35th)

“It’s been quite tricky. Actually, some stages were not so slippery, not too much loose gravel, but then some other stages have been a bit harder. Even when we have been through stages for the second time and you hope that a lot of gravel has been swept away, the quick line is very narrow and the penalty for going off that line means that it is hard to commit and risk damaging the car.

“I’ve been playing about with my driving style at times, trying a few things just to get my performance back up to the level that I know I can produce. Getting the Ford Fiesta back on to the podium in the WRC this season is my target and so the mileage that we are able to get can only contribute towards our performance later in the season. “


The start list looked like this for the final day, with just four stages to run– Suninen, Greensmith, Rovanperä, Tänak, Sordo, Katsuta, Neuville, Evans, Ogier, Huttunen (WRC2).

Into SS17 Arzachena – Braniatogghiu 1 – 15.25 km then and Elfyn picked up from where he ended Saturday, going fastest from Ott who was returning under super rally rules, whilst Seb was third. The top three remained unchanged however. There was a change in the lead for the WRC2 category though, with Mads setting the sixth fastest time and passing Jari and also moving into fifth place overall!

Thierry won SS18 Aglientu – Santa Teresa 1 – 7.79 km, whilst Elfyn remained quick with the second fastest time, just three tenths slower, and Seb third. Disaster hit for a very angry Mads though. Somehow, he picked up a puncture, and once again fell behind Jari. He and Torstein let rip after the flying finish, both verbally and physically, and Jari was now 17.4 ahead with two stages left.

Elfyn took SS19 Arzachena – Braniatogghiu 2 – 15.25 km from Seb and Thierry. The Welshman had now taken his lead over the Belgian to more than 30 seconds. Meanwhile, Mads found some big pace again, setting the fifth best time, faster even than Teemu in a full WRC Fiesta, and Mads was now just 2.1 seconds behind the WRC2 category leader.

Final stage then, SS20 Aglientu – Santa Teresa 2 [Power Stage] – 7.79 km and Thierry took the stage win from Ott, with Kalle third, Seb fourth and Dani fifth. Going through the water splash, Elfyn’s engine cut out, and it took almost 20 seconds to get the engine running again. He crossed the line 18 seconds slower than the Belgian. He still secured second place behind Seb, whilst Thierry was third. The battle for the win in the WRC2 category between Jari and Mads went down to the wire, and the Finn in his i20 Rally2 was the victorious driver and with it an overall fifth position as well!


Final Overall Classification – Rally Italia Sardegna

1 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Toyota Yaris WRC 3:19:26.4
2 E. Evans S. Martin Toyota Yaris WRC +46.0
3 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +1:05.2
4 T. Katsuta D. Barritt Toyota Yaris WRC +6:11.2
5 J. Huttunen M. Lukka Hyundai i20 R5 +9:31.7
6 M. Østberg T. Eriksen Citroën C3 R5 +9:39.2
7 Y. Rossel A. Coria Citroën C3 R5 +10:37.7
8 P. López D. Vallejo Škoda Fabia Evo +11:03.7
9 J. Solans R. Sanjuan Citroën C3 R5 +11:26.3
10 M. Bulacia M. Ohannesian Škoda Fabia Evo +11.34.6


Let’s hear from the drivers then.

Toyota Gazoo Racing

Sébastien Ogier (1st)

“This has been an incredible weekend for us: We could not have expected to come away from Sardinia a result like this. To have one-two for the team, starting first and second on the road, is a fantastic achievement. I’m also very happy that we managed to find a better feeling with the car and react after Portugal, where maybe the speed was not as great as we wanted. Unfortunately, in the Power Stage we had a misfire briefly after a watersplash which was very aggressive, but we still took two bonus points which is good for the championship. If we can keep this rhythm up, we can be confident, but of course it’s never that easy.”

Elfyn Evans (2nd)

“Second place is a great result that we definitely would have taken after our struggles on Friday morning. This morning we didn’t have such a huge gap behind us so it was good to be able to extend that advantage further, and it’s probably just as well given what happened later on in the final stage. We seemed to take in some water and I wasn’t sure it was going to clear, but thankfully it did and it quickly went back to full power after that. It’s a slight disappointment not to take any extra points from the Power Stage because of that, but at the same time I’m relieved to hang on to second place.”

Takamoto Katsuta (4th)

“I am pretty happy with what I have done during this rally. I learned a lot and there were a lot of positives also. On Saturday especially there were so many things happening and I had a lot of moments; I almost went off when we hit a big rock that was right on the line. But we were able to finish the rally and that was the main thing. It was good experience for me and good learning that I can take onto the next event.”

2021 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 05 / Rally d’Italia Sardegna / 3-6 May, 2021 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä (25th)

“Our aim today was to get as many points as we could from the Power Stage. Our starting position still made it a bit tricky, as there was some cleaning to do with only two World Rally Cars in front of us. So, I had to make my own lines in many places and lost a bit of time with that, but I tried to push a lot and we came away with the third fastest time. Overall, it was a really disappointing weekend from our side, but we just have to move forward. The positive thing is that the feeling in the car is good again after Portugal, and hopefully we can continue like this.”

2021 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 05 / Rally d’Italia Sardegna / 3-6 May, 2021 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville (3rd)

“There were a few things that came together that didn’t work properly for us this weekend. I’d like to extend my thanks to the team, including everyone in the workshop, because after Portugal they had one-and-a-half days to repair the car; they made everything like new. I am sorry to them that I wasn’t able to deliver a better result, but we bring home a podium at the end of a disappointing weekend for everyone. There are better times to come.”

2021 FIA World Rally Championship
Rally Italia Sardegna 2021 3-6 June 2021
Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, WRC, Action during Day 3 of Rally Italia Sardegna 2021
Photographer: Romain Thuillier
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Jari Huttunen (5thOverall, 1st WRC2)

“It is an unbelievable feeling to win here in Sardinia after a long break. We have had some issues this weekend and the pace is not really what we wanted, but we’ve made it through and done enough to take the WRC 2 win – my first in the Hyundai i20 R5. It’s been a good rally and a tough battle for the victory with Mads, who had shown to be a bit faster than us this weekend. We have focused on keeping the car on the road and not taking any risks. A great result for us and Hyundai Motorsport N.”

Dani Sordo (17th)

“The only positive at the end of this tough weekend is that we have been able to take some points for the manufacturer’ championship. In some stages, our speed was OK but there’s not much more we can say. We go home a bit disappointed but sometimes rallying is like this.”

Ott Tänak (24th)

“We know what happened on Saturday and it needs no extra explanation. It has not been a happy weekend, for sure, but the Hyundai Motorsport team has done a great job to get me up to this level. The car is really fast, it’s improved a lot, so there is nothing stopping us.”

M-Sport Ford WRT

Gus Greensmith (7th)

“I think I was pretty happy with my driving this weekend, one or two stages were particularly good, it’s obviously a shame to then have technical issues that prevent that progress coming through in the overall results.

“I think that we can take heart from the reliability that the other two cars have shown this weekend. Clearly mine have been isolated incidents and in review and planning for the next event we will be able to move forward and keep aiming to get in amongst the top five.”

Teemu Suninen (8th)

“We could be happier, obviously, the first day wasn’t very good for us and that was a big shame but we have been able to build a good rhythm through Saturday and Sunday and to learn more about the performance of the Pirelli tyres on gravel.

“It was also a good learning to run first on the road as well, because you can really make up time when you know how to approach the stages with no markers and no line. You always want to take away more than what you learn from an event but on an event like this just reaching the finish can feel like an achievement. “

Adrien Fourmaux (6th, WRC2)

“Our goal is to push in all the stages and to keep the pressure on throughout the rally, and the incident on Friday was a combination of things related to readjusting back from the WRC car to the Rally2 and a little bit my experience. The difference in the aerodynamics on the cars is huge and I learned a big lesson as a result.

“We decided to push a bit more with the setup on Saturday, we tried a few different things to get to the point where I felt comfortable to really push and the result was two stage wins, which I think the team deserved for all their efforts this weekend. “


Citroen Racing

Mads Østberg (2nd WRC2)

“We have to be happy with coming away with a second place after this weekend. This rally was extremely rough. We fought really hard to even get to the end and luckily, we were able to repair the different issues we ran into. We are unlucky not to win the rally but considering the time penalty of one minute, two stages with rear issues and a puncture is not so bad. It has been a hard weekend and I am exhausted. Estonia next is not as rough so I hope we can build on the good pace and speed that we have and have a clean rally.”

Warren’s Thoughts

Well, what a rally with so many talking points! Let’s start first with Toyota. Seb and Julien showed again why they are so fast. Five stage wins throughout the weekend, and the pace that they had on day one won them this event when Ott and Martin’s challenge came to an end. Elsewhere in the team, Elfyn struggled on the soft tyres, but when he went onto the hard tyres, he found his form and took four stage wins. This earnt him his second place and he was able to hold off and gap Thierry as well. Kalle was also fast, and without his technical problems may well have challenged for a podium. Takamoto matched his best result to date, and survived a huge moment with a rock! The Japanese driver is definitely improving, and will continue to improve throughout his first full season.

What can I say about Hyundai? Well, it was a disaster for them. Thierry secured a podium, but was beaten by Elfyn. He could not keep up with the Welshman. For Ott though, it was tough to take a retirement for the second event in a row whilst in a place of absolute domination. Six stage wins, but only took 4 championship points ultimately. Dani came into the event as a two-time winner and held a good second place, plus three stage wins as well. It was a surprise to see him make the mistake that he did, but that is the way motorsport goes sometimes.  The Hyundai is clearly very fast, but lacks some inherent strength, particularly in the rear suspension.  Kris Meeke said that to give away so many points to their rivals, was not good for their hopes for either world titles. We shall see how things go in the next few events and see if they can close the points gap that has developed.

Finally at M-Sport, their weekend didn’t start well with Teemu beaching the car on his return to the Fiesta WRC. It was a big shame for the Finn who has scored his best result on this event in 2019, and is only competing in the full WRC category occasionally this year. For Gus, it was a case of what might have been. He showed good pace out there, but was let down with mechanical and electrical problems. The young Brit will be hoping that at the next few rounds allow him to score some good results.

2021 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers’ Standings
After Round Five

1 S. Ogier 106
2 E. Evans 95
3 T. Neuville 77
4 O. Tänak 49
5 T. Katsuta 48
6 K. Rovanperä 44
7 D. Sordo 30
8 C. Breen 24
9 G. Greensmith 22
10 A. Fourmaux 20


2021 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers’ Standings
After Round Five

1 Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team 231
2 Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team 182
3 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 82
4 Hyundai 2C Competition 28


Next round sees the championship return to Kenya for the Safari Rally! Over the final weekend of June from the 24th to 27th! Pop back the week before for the preview for this very special return!

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