Double for Hyundai on the podium with first place and third by Dani Sordo. Second Breen-Nagle in Ford. Success of public for the Italian round of the WRC, broadcasted live on Rai, Sky and WRC+ All Live. Neuville wins the Wolf Power Stage. Rovanpera mantains the championship lead.

Ott Tanak and Martin Jarveoja triumphed at Rally Italia Sardegna 2022 on Hyundai i20 N Rally1. The Italian round of the World Rally Championship organized by Automobile Club d’Italia in collaboration with Regione Sardegna was unpredictable, with many twists and turns throughout the four days of competition to the joy of the public present and the many spectators connected from home, thanks to the extensive television coverage provided to the event.

After 19 Special Stages contested between Alghero, the rally headquarters and service park site, and Olbia, the Estonian of Hyundai will lift the WRC stage trophy in 03h10’59.1, capitalizing on his excellent performance in the scratches from Thursday to Sunday. In fact, the 2019 world champion won 9 stages and will be awarded at the Magellan Bastions in Alghero.

With him on the podium were Craig Breen and Paul Nagle in M-Sport’s Puma and Dani Sordo and Candido Carrera in Hyundai. The Irishmen won the only stage at Tempio Pausania 2 but made no mistakes, always occupying high positions at the end of each scratch. Expert driving allowed the two to add up the good performances, thus occupying a second place at 1’03.2 from Tanak.

A pair of practice wins on the second day of the race, however, for third overall Sordo-Carrera, which gave Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team a double podium finish and success in the Power Stage. A conservative technique in the final laps of the race paid off for the crew who finished Rally Italia Sardegna with an overall time of 03h12’32.1, despite a grip that was not always optimal for them. Although at the bottom of the top 5, Kalle Rovanpera in Toyota GR Yaris Rally1, with an effective strategy, retains the world championship lead.

Ott Tanak explains, “It was an extremely exciting weekend, especially since the new hybrid generation started. I am really happy, especially for the mechanics who made an incredible effort at the end of last year and at the beginning of this season. We made some steps forward and managed to improve but we have to keep working, there is still a lot to do.”

Craig Breen states, “I am thrilled. It was a really good weekend. The car is getting better and better. It took some time but I feel more comfortable now.”

Dani Sordo is not fully satisfied with the performance, “I’m not that happy. I would have liked to fight more with Craig, but he had an incredible speed. We had some problems so we lost some time with the dust in the first test. I didn’t want to make a mistake, for the team and the manufacturer’s standings. I could have been much faster, but we have to take the points as the goal.”

Indeed, with the performances of Tanak and Sordo, Hyundai thins the gap in the championship’s manufacturers’ standings with Toyota. The Japanese manufacturer retains the lead with 200 points separated now by only 39 points. Instead, the top 3 drivers change because Tanak ousts Katsuta from third place in the championship. The top two places remain unchanged with Rovanpera (120 points) and Neuville (65 points) three clear of the Estonian. The Japanese now slips to fifth place, also overtaken by Breen.

The official award ceremony of Rally Italia Sardegna will be at 3 p.m., preceded by a concert by the Italian Army’s Brigata Sassari band. In fact, the paratroopers of the Folgore Brigade, with a precision airdrop, will bring the Italian flag to the stage. The winners, respecting tradition, will dive into the sea.

Off the podium, Pierre-Louis Loubet and Vincent Landais in a Ford Puma maintained the fourth place they had already achieved at the end of Saturday, with a gap to the rally winner of 2’09.4. At +53.4 from them was championship leader Kalle Rovanpera, followed by Takamoto Katsuta, both with Toyota GR Yaris Rally1. The Sardinian race was not easy for the Japanese driver who will have to work hard in the coming rounds to make up lost ground on his rivals. Finishing among the Rally1s was Britain’s Gus Greensmith in a Ford with a time of 03h16’22.7.

There were four special stages today for a total of 39.30 km timed on the Nurra coast in the northwestern part of Sardinia. At 8.10 a.m. and 11 a.m. there was the start of SS19 and SS20 Cala Flumini, and at 9.08 a.m. and 12.18 p.m. the sea trials SS19 and SS21.

Early in the day, drivers tried to conserve tires in order to push through the Wolf Power Stage and earn points for the world championship. The first pass of the Cala Flumini (12.55 km) therefore featured slightly above-average times. Tanak does not spare himself, who wants from the start to plant the Estonian flag on the first scratch. He succeeds in 8’30.2, 1.7 seconds behind Esapekka Lappi, who precedes Craig Breen’s Puma by 2 seconds. The three all improve their performance in SS20 and narrow the gap, but maintain their positions. The Hyundai crew is confirmed as the fastest in 8’23.2 with an only 3-tenths gap from Lappi’s GR Yaris Rally1 and 1 second from the Irishman.

Thierry Neuville, on the other hand, is the fastest on SS19 (7.10 km). The first pass on the Sassari-Argentiera serves the Belgian to take his measurements ahead of the last stage of the day. He arrives at the end of the test in 5’07.9 with a margin of 2.4 seconds over Elfyn Evans. The Englishman breaks both rear-view mirrors against the vegetation but does not slow down, preceding his partner Lappi on the time trial by 1.3 seconds. Neuville then confirms his supremacy in the time trial, further improving his time by 6 seconds on the Wolf Power Stage. Emerging instead for second and third place was Kalle Rovanpera with a time of 5’03.3 and Elfyn Evans at +0.7 from him, both in Toyota.

Rally Italia Sardegna was also generous with satisfaction with Nicolay Gryazin and Konstantin Aleksandrov, the Toksport WRT 2 crew that won the cadet rainbow series standings in the Skoda Fabia Evo.

Gryazin had also closed Saturday’s stage in the lead when he took the lead after SS 13, a section in which Norwegian leader Andreas Mikkelsen was stopped in practice. From that moment on, the Fabia crew never gave up the lead, carefully administering the accumulated advantage and closing the Italian race as winners and with an excellent haul of points.

Spaniards Jan Solans and Rodrigo Sanjuan, completed with a 2nd place finish the comeback in the Citroen C3, a car that also signed the third-last time trial with transalpines Yohan Rossel and Valentin Sarreaud, who returned after their exit in the first stage.

Finns Jari Huttunen and Mikko Lukka in Ford Fiesta MKII continued their climb in the standings on the final day, where they scored a scratch in the first time trial and then in the power stage; under the ramparts of Alghero, the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team duo took the 3rd step of the podium.

The other two stages of the final day were won by Christopher Ingram with Craig Drew, the British duo finishing 4th, ahead of the twin car of Finns Sami Pajari and Enni Malkonen.

The Sassari-Argentiera, along with the awards ceremony, were broadcast live by WRC+ All Live, RaiPlay and Sky Sport Action, and delayed on Rai Sport HD.

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