THE ITALIAN ROUND of WRC held in Sardinia turned out to be a surprise for Ott Tänak, who became the second Estonian rally driver in history to take a WRC win; the first one being Markko Märtin who also happens to be Ott’s mentor.
However, this Italian victory wasn’t an easy one for the Estonian as the competition was quite close in the opening stages of the rally. The first stage saw Thierry Neuville of Hyundai Motorsport take the lead, followed by Ott in his Ford Fiesta. By the end of the SS9, Tänak was pushed to third and Neuville to second by a charging Hayden Paddon of Hyundai Motorsport.
Paddon continued to lead till SS12, but by then Tänak had moved up to second after Neuville slipped to fourth. JariMatti Latvala of Toyota Gazoo Racing was right behind Tänak in third, challenging the Estonian for the top spot.
Luck seemed to favour Tänak’s as he got a clearing after Paddon retired on the penultimate day, handing the lead to Tänak. But Latvala was still a threat for the Estonian as the two were just 24.3 seconds apart.
Going into the final day, Tänak had the advantage but Latvala had good pace too. The first stage on the last day saw Latvala bridge the gap and was now running just 18.8 seconds behind. But in the next stage, Tänak quickened his pace to ext