Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja and the Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC are in the hunt for a top position at Rally Italia Sardegna.
Currently holding third place overall, the Estonians are just 9.5 seconds adrift of the lead with two challenging days left to contest.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s been a really tough day, but I have to say that Ott has done a great job. He didn’t have the best feeling with the balance of the car, but he’s delivered a very clever drive which gives him a good road position for tomorrow.
“With our strong championship position resulting in an early running order we certainly didn’t expect to be this close to the lead. That is a big positive, but at the same time it’s clear that Sébastien has really suffered as the very first car on the road.
“We knew that he would lose time as he was 40 seconds off the lead at the same point last year. The only difference is that he was in third position then and now he’s seventh which doesn’t give a great start position for tomorrow.
“It’s frustrating, but knowing how professional Sébastien and Julien are they will continue to give it their all and anything is possible at an event like Rally Italia Sardegna.”
TÄNAK AND JÄRVEOJA
Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja delivered a solid performance throughout the opening day of Rally Italia Sardegna. Locked in an intense battle for the top positions, the Estonians are in third place just 9.5 seconds shy of the lead.
Despite struggling with the balance of his Fiesta and not finding a comfortable rhythm through the challenging terrain, Tänak minimised the potential time loss with a number of top-three times. Keeping well clear of the event’s notorious pitfalls, he and Järveoja are delivering an intelligent performance which could reap rewards.
Working with his engineers to find the optimum set-up for the stages to come, the Estonian could well be one to watch as the event unfolds.
SS1: 2nd (+0.2)
SS2: 8th (+7.8)
SS3: 9th (+15.5)
SS4: 3rd (+3.3)
SS5: 4th (+4.4)
SS6: 3rd (+1.7)
SS7: 6th (+6.7)
SS8: 4th (+13.6)
SS9: 3rd (+3.6)
Ott Tänak (3rd) said:
“The gaps are so small at the moment that anything is possible. I tried to do my best but it didn’t feel like the best day at the office so it’s good to see that we are so close to the lead at the end of the day.
“The first loop was very slippery with some tricky conditions in the dust. I enjoyed it a lot more in the afternoon, but to be honest I didn’t have the perfect feeling. Sometimes it was okay and at other times it was a bit so and so.
“We have some ideas of what we can do to improve and it looks like everyone is looking forward to tomorrow’s stages so I think it will be good craic.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
As expected, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia became the victims of their own success today. Leading the way in the championship standings, the Frenchmen were tasked with the unenvious job of sweeping a clean line through the loose gravel.
With time loss inevitable, the four-time World Champions were at a disadvantage but remained focused on the job in hand. Delivering a clean drive through the challenging speed tests, Ogier kept his Fiesta well clear of trouble and remains in contention to challenge for a solid result as the event continues.
SS1: 6th (+0.9)
SS2: 12th (+12.0)
SS3: 11th (+20.6)
SS4: 5th (+6.7)
SS5: 9th (+14.0)
SS6: 7th (+3.8)
SS7: 7th (+8.8)
SS8: 6th (+14.4)
SS9: 5th (+7.1)
Sébastien Ogier (7th) said:
“It’s not been a fantastic day for us. We tried as much as we could with the grip that we had but that is just the way it is when you’re the first car on the road.
“I was happy with the car and we made some changes in service that I was pleased with, but every time I tried to push there was so little grip and the risks became too high.
“It’s frustrating as I had no chance to go faster today, but sometimes you just have to keep the bigger picture in mind and wait for the next day.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt started their Rally Italia Sardegna well. Posting the fourth fastest time through last night’s opening Super Special, the Brits were just half a second adrift of the lead going into today’s competition.
Unfortunately, they would only get two stages under their belt before going off the road through the first pass of Tula (SS4). Caught-out by a dip after a tightening corner, the pairing slid off the road and damaged the front-right suspension.
With his DMACK-clad Fiesta repaired under Rally 2 regulations, Evans will restart tomorrow.
SS1: 4th (+0.5)
SS2: 10th (+10.2)
SS3: 7th (+14.8)
Elfyn Evans (Rally 2 / 41st) said:
“On a tightening corner after a crest, there was a bad dip that I hadn’t noted on the recce. The car bottomed out and we were passengers after that. Unable to turn, we went straight into the trees and that was the end of our day.
“We weren’t going flat-out and I felt that we could have taken more risks through the first two stages so it’s just one of those things. There’s a fine line in this game and sometimes you get caught out – that was the case for us today.”
ELSEWHERE IN THE TEAM
Elsewhere in the team, Éric Camilli and Benjamin Veillas are doing the Ford Fiesta R5 Evo2 proud – leading the way in the RC2 class.
The Fiesta has set the fastest time through seven of the event’s nine stages – Camilli accounting for six and holding a 12.9 second advantage at the head of the field.
In the WRC 2 category, Pierre-Louis Loubet and Vincent Landais had a strong start to their rally. Setting the fastest time through the first pass of Monte Olia (SS3), the Corsican was in a fine third place before going off the road through the second pass of Tula (SS8).
Éric Camilli (1st in RC2 class) said:
“It was a really good day for us. The car is working really well, the driving is good and the pacenotes have been perfect. It’s not been an easy day with some really tricky conditions but we’ve been able to manage our race and I’m really happy to be leading at the end of the day.”
1. Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshall (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) 1:31:02.6
2. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) +8.2
3. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +9.5
4. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +9.8
5. Mads Østberg / Ola Fløene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +14.7
6. Juho Hänninen / Kaj Lindstrom (Toyota Yaris WRC) +38.0
7. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +41.0
8. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:05.3
9. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Citroen C3 WRC) +1:57.9
10. Éric Camilli / Benjamin Veillas (Ford Fiesta R5 Evo2) +4:08.0
41. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +41:38.2