WRC Rally Italy: Sordo holds off Neuville, Ogier for victory

Hyundai's Dani Sordo claimed his third World Rally Championship victory and his second in a row on Rally Italy, finishing just 5.1 seconds ahead of team-mate Thierry Neuville.

Cooler conditions greeted the runners on Sunday morning where a loop of just two stages awaited which was to be run twice through the day.

Toyota's six-time world champion Sebastien Ogier had done enough on Saturday's final stages to split the Hyundais of leader Sordo and Neuville, and the Frenchman duly pipped Neuville to win the first stage of the day by two tenths of a second, while Sordo struggled and dropped 12.1s.

Championship leader Elfyn Evans was 4.8s further back but he did enough to safeguard his fourth place overall from attack by M-Sport's Teemu Suninen.

Neuville lit the blue touch paper on the second stage, reclaiming 1.6s from Ogier before the service halt, but when the action restarted Ogier took back that deficit while Sordo struggled again, allowing his overall lead which had been as high as 38s to erode to just 9.2s.

"It's never safe and I don't know, I don't understand the times," the Spaniard said as they headed to the final stage of the day. "They are really, really fast in this stage. I am really surprised."

The second run through the beach-side stage at Sassari was the moment in which defending champion Ott Tanak played his joker to perfection.

After his Hyundai lost two minutes due to unspecified technical difficulties on the first day, Tanak could finish no higher than sixth overall but set an unbeatable Power Stage time to claim five extra points that keep him in the title race with two events remaining.

Neuville went faster on the split times but then began bouncing off the scenery in his rush to get to the finish.

"I got a broken disk or something in the last 1.5 km so I was pumping all the time so I lost a little bit but we did the best we could," the Belgian said.

Ogier's Yaris WRC was 3.4s slower than Tanak and handed second place overall back to Neuville.

"I can hardly do more, honestly, I'm on the limit, I push very hard but on this stage we knew that Hyundai is very, very strong on that one but we try, so no regrets," Ogier said.

"For sure it was intense the whole weekend. We gave everything."

Sordo was the last man into the stage, his i20 WRC carrying the name of his compatriot Laura Salvo, the 21-year-old Spanish co-driver killed on Rally Vidreiro Centro Portugal on Saturday. He was not fast, but did enough to claim his second consecutive victory in Sardinia by a scant margin of 5.1s.

"I'm not really happy with my performance today, but at the end we managed to bring the rally home so I'm really, really happy," he said.

In the WRC points standings, Evans remains 14 points clear of Ogier as the series moves to asphalt rallies in Belgium and Italy for the remainder of the schedule, while Neuville has climbed up to third, 10 points further back, with Tanak hanging on right behind him.

Hyundai's 1-2 finish ensured it holds a seven-point lead in the manufacturers' standings from Toyota, with M-Sport 84 points adrift in third.

In WRC2, Sweden's Pontus Tidemand turned the championship tide in his favour with another cautious drive in his Skoda Fabia.

Mads Ostberg failed to maintain his 100% starts-to-wins ratio after being forced to run for much of the first day with only rear-wheel-drive and suffering further gremlins in his Citroen that pushed him back to fourth at the finish.

WRC3 was claimed by Hyundai's Jari Huttunen, who survived the puncture roulette that afflicted the majority of his competitors.

Rally Italy Results

Pos Class Driver Team Gap
1 RC1 Dani Sordo, C.del Barrio Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT 2h41m37.5s
2 RC1 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT 5.1s
3 RC1 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 6.1s
4 RC1 Elfyn Evans, S.Martin Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 1m02.3s
5 RC1 Teemu Suninen, J.Lehtinen M-Sport Ford WRT 1m33.9s
6 RC1 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT 2m27.5s
7 RC1 Pierre-Louis Loubet, V.Landais Hyundai 2C Competition 4m43.8s
8 WRC3 Jari Huttunen, M.Lukka 8m41.7s
9 WRC3 Kajetan Kajetanowicz, M.Szczepaniak 10m02.9s
10 WRC2 Pontus Tidemand, P.Barth Toksport WRT 10m20.9s
11 WRC3 Marco Bulacia Wilkinson, M.Der Ohannesian 10m49.2s
12 WRC2 Ole-Christian Veiby, J.Andersson Hyundai Motorsport N 10m49.7s
13 WRC2 Eyvind Brynildsen, I.Minor Toksport WRT 11m10.6s
14 WRC2 Mads Ostberg, T.Eriksen PH Sport 12m29.2s
15 RC1 Martin Prokop, Z.Jurka 12m44.8s
16 WRC3 Umberto Scandola, G.D'Amore 14m27.0s
17 WRC3 Alberto Heller, M.Marti 18m18.0s
18 WRC3 Oliver Solberg, A.Johnston 18m56.7s
19 RC2 Armin Kremer, E.Kremer 22m26.4s
20 RC2 Mauro Trentin, A.De Marco 22m37.2s
21 WRC3 Alberto Battistolli, S.Scattolin 23m49.2s
22 JWRC Tom Kristensson, J.Sjoberg Tom Kristensson Motorsport 26m11.6s
23 RC2 Luca Hoelbling, F.Fiorini 28m31.6s
24 RC2 Piano, M.Menchini 30m36.9s
25 RC1 Gus Greensmith, E.Edmondson M-Sport Ford WRT 33m07.1s
26 RC2 Francesco Marrone, F.Fresu 37m02.0s
27 JWRC Fabrizio Zaldivar, F.Mussano 37m37.0s
28 RC2 Pablo Biolghini, S.Pudda 38m32.0s
29 WRC3 Ulysses Bertholdo, G.Morales 38m41.0s
30 RC2 Giuseppe Pozzo, P.Cottu 41m34.8s
31 RC2 Fabrizio Arengi Bentivoglio, M.Bossi 41m53.9s
32 RC2 Maurizio Morato, F.Pezzoli 42m41.9s
33 RC2 Massimo Squarcialupi, G.Squarcialupi 45m22.4s
34 JWRC Martins Sesks, R.Francis 56m07.8s
35 WRC3 Luciano Cobbe, F.Turco 56m31.0s
36 WRC3 Nicolas Ciamin, Y.Roche 59m44.8s
37 JWRC Enrico Oldrati, E.De Guio 1h03m12.7s
38 WRC3 Emilio Fernandez, R.Garcia 1h05m04.9s
39 WRC3 Yohan Rossel, B.Fulcrand PH Sport 1h07m40.9s
40 RC4 William Toninelli, C.Tomasi 1h13m53.5s
41 RC3 Andrea Coti Zelati, F.Musu 1h15m56.4s
42 RC4 Sergio Biondi, G.Barbaro 1h19m38.9s
43 RC2 Simone Romagna, L.Addondi 1h23m10.6s
44 JWRC Sami Pajari, M.Salminen Team Flying Finn 1h24m26.3s
45 RC2 Carlo Covi, M.Lorigiola 1h33m54.4s
46 RC4 Paulo Soria, M.Recalt 1h34m25.3s
47 JWRC Marco Pollara, M.Messina 1h43m02.0s
48 RC3 Omar Lambroni, A.Taras 1h44m20.8s
49 RC5 Gianni Bardin, L.Pascale 1h58m58.0s
50 RC3 Rachele Somaschini, G.Zanchetta 2h03m52.1s

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