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World Rally Championship

Ott Tänak snatches Sardinian victory

Thierry Neuville continues to lead the drivers’ standings with Tänak now joint second


Thierry Neuville continues to lead the drivers’ standings with Tänak now joint second

Hyundai Motorsport is celebrating a fantastic finish to Rally Italia Sardegna, the sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship season (WRC), where Ott Tänak snatched victory on the final stage of the event by just two-tenths of a second.

The Estonian had been gaining on rally leader Sébastien Ogier throughout the day as their intense battle continued, yet it appeared the gap was insurmountable heading into the Power Stage. However, this unpredictable rally held one final surprise: a puncture for Ogier saw the advantage swing back to Tänak when it mattered most. The incredible result matches the 2011 Jordan Rally for the closest-ever finish in WRC history and marks a seventh win for Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team in Sardinia.

It is also Hyundai Motorsport’s second consecutive double podium finish, with Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera joining their team-mates after safely bringing their Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid home in third. Meanwhile, Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe topped the Super Sunday standings in a superb recovery from their Saturday frustrations.

Sunday featured two tests: Cala Flumini (SS13/15, 12.55km) and Sassari-Argentiera (SS14/16, 7.10km). Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team was quick out the blocks: once again, Neuville refused to let the disadvantage of being first on the road hamper his mission to score maximum points. Two stage wins in the morning loop established the Belgian at the top of the Super Sunday standings.

Tänak was similarly on a charge, with the Estonian claiming two second-fastest times in SS13 and SS14 to confirm a double Hyundai Motorsport 1-2 in stage. Another stage win for Tänak on SS15 narrowed the gap to first to just 6.2 seconds heading into the Power Stage.

Neuville’s early benchmark on SS16 proved to be untouchable, as conditions on the stage continued to worsen for the later runners. This allowed the Belgian to claim full Power Stage and Super Sunday points and maintain his position at the top of the drivers’ championship.

Tänak’s win, his first of the 2024 season and the team’s 30th victory in FIA WRC, sees the Estonian gain ground in the standings to now sit joint second. Sordo maintained his solid pace on Sunday to successfully confirm a terrific team result, scoring important points for the team’s fight in the manufacturers’ championship. As a result, Hyundai Motorsport has extended its advantage to 13 points.

Crew Notes: Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (#8 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)

  • Expert Sunday drive sees Estonians in the perfect position to snatch victory
  • Victory marks Tänak’s 20th career WRC win and sixth with Hyundai Motorsport

Tänak said: “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.”

Crew Notes: Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (#6 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)

  • Spaniard claims sixth Sardinian podium with third place
  • Manufacturers’ mission accomplished with consistent drive on Sunday

Sordo said: “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.”

Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (#11 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)

  • Belgians claim maximum 12 points from Super Sunday scores
  • Solid recovery sees Neuville hold an 18 point advantage in the standings

Neuville said: “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.”

Hyundai Motorsport President and Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul said:

“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.”

Next rally at a Glance

  • Rally Poland will make its highly-anticipated return to the WRC calendar on June 27-30
  • The fast gravel roads last featured in 2017, when Thierry Neuville led a Hyundai Motorsport 1-2 finish.
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