Dani Sordo secured a shock second career WRC victory at Rally Italia Sardegna on the final stage, taking advantage of a power steering failure for long time leader Ott Tanak.
Sordo led the rally after Friday’s running, using his far-back road position to lead M-Sport’s Teemu Sunninen and Tanak, who put in a great drive to lie third overnight despite having to clean the road in the afternoon loop.
The Estonian was meant to start second on the road behind leader Ogier, but a mistake for the Citroen pilot that forced his retirement for the day meant Tanak had to lead the way for his rivals instead.
The reason for Ogier’s Friday retirement was a broken steering arm after he clipped a rock in the tight quarry section of the Monte Baranta test.
He was unable to fix his stopped C3 due to not carrying a spare steering arm, a failed strategy gamble from the Citroen team in order to save weight.
With a better road position for Saturday’s group of stages, Tanak was flying. He caught and passed Sunninen on SS10 for second, before snatching the overall lead from Sordo just two stages later.
He continued to stretch his lead for the rest of the rally, and he led the Hyundai by 26 seconds heading into the rally-ending power stage of Sassari-Argentiera.
Heartbreak would shortly to follow though, as the power steering system in Tanak’s Yaris failed in the early part of the stage, causing him to spin and crash as a result.
He managed to get the car going and to the end of the stage, but not before he had lost roughly two minutes to Andreas Mikkelsen’s stage winning time.
This meant he dropped from the lead to fifth overall, gifting Sordo only his second WRC victory and Hyundai’s third of the season.
Sordo, while unable to keep up with Tanak’s pace, controlled his gap to the pursuing Ford Fiesta of Sunninen behind throughout Saturday and Sunday, and looked set for second before Tanak’s issue.
Sunninen took second behind Sordo, the Finn closing to just 13 seconds behind in what was a strong debut event for his new partnership with ex-Mikko Hirvonen co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen.
Mikkelsen managed to steal the final podium position on the final stage from Elfyn Evans following Tanak’s problem, beating the second of the M-Sport Fiesta’s to third by just 0.9s.
Tanak was forced to take fifth, although still ahead of title rival Thierry Neuville who suffered a tough rally with several mistakes made during Friday’s running from both him and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul.
Esapekka Lappi was seventh for Citroen, while Kris Meeke was forced to settle for eighth following a puncture on the second pass of the Monte Lerno stage.
He had been fighting for what was at the time fourth position with Mikkelsen and Evans, but this dropped him three minutes and unable to recover any ground before the end.
Kalle Rovanpera was classified ninth overall and WRC2 winner, just ahead of Skoda team-mate Jan Kopecky in tenth.
Jari-Matti Latvala finished 22nd overall after looking like the man to beat on the first loop of Friday morning, having led heading into the afternoon’s set of stages. He made a mistake at a tight downhill hairpin in SS6, rolling his Yaris and smashing the windscreen.
He managed to salvage two points from the power stage, while Ogier also managed to recover some lost points, taking second fastest and four points for his points tally.
Neuville managed to take third and three points while Evans took the final point for fifth. This all means that Tanak moves into the championship lead heading to the next round in Finland with a four-point cushion over Ogier.