Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja secured their maiden FIA World Rally Championship victory at this weekend’s Rally Italia Sardegna – delivering a superb drive behind the wheel of their Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC and climbing to third place in the championship standings.
Their landmark victory also saw M-Sport extend their lead at the head of the manufacturers’ standings and continue an unbroken record of podium finishes at every event so far this year.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“This is just the very beginning for Ott and Martin. There’s nothing quite like that first win and they delivered the perfect strategy with a very impressive drive this weekend. They should be extremely proud of their performance, and I’m sure this victory will be the first of many.
“It’s fantastic to see the way Ott has developed. He’s always had the speed, but now he really does have the full package. I also need to praise Martin. This is his first year at the sport’s highest level and he has taken to the challenge with such ease and professionalism.
“As you can imagine, there was a lot of emotion from the team when Ott crossed the finish line. When you’ve worked with someone as long as a lot of our guys have worked with Ott – and been with him through all of the ups and downs – I can tell you that this one really does mean a lot.
“Sébastien had a tough weekend with his road position, but once again he has shown exactly what makes him a four-time World Champion. I’m sure that he will be keen to put this one behind him, but even on a tough event he’s still collecting the points.
“That is what makes him so special and he and Julien have had such a positive influence on everyone in the team.”
TÄNAK AND JÄRVEOJA
Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja have claimed a well-deserved and popular victory at this weekend’s Rally Italia Sardegna – delivering their maiden win on the same island which brought Tänak his first podium in 2012.
Adopting the perfect strategy for this notoriously difficult event, the Estonians kept a margin of performance which is so vital to success in Sardinia.
Combining speed with intelligence, Tänak set three fastest stage times and was confident behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta WRC – praising the work of the team who delivered a perfect car on his way to victory.
Climbing to third place in the drivers’ championship, Tänak’s ever-improving pace and performance is making him a real contender at the season’s mid-point. With two of his favourite events coming up next, all eyes will be fixed on the super cool Estonian.
SS16: 4th (+6.4)
SS17: 3rd (+8.7)
SS18: 4th (+3.6)
SS19: 8th (+13.4)
Ott Tänak (1st) said:
“All everyone has been asking me is how it feels, and I can confirm, it feels good! It was a really difficult weekend but we had a clever strategy and we stuck to it – and now it’s happy days!
“The team have done the perfect job with the car and Martin has been mega. The whole first half of the season has been great. We have such a strong team – both inside the car and outside the car – and a strong team mate who is pushing me to do my best.
“Everything is coming together and we are improving all the time. We’re still a private team and you just have to look at the result from the year to see what an amazing job everyone is doing.
“This was an important step for us, and now that it’s job done, let’s see where we can go from here.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia became the victims of their own success this weekend. Leading the way at the head of the championship standings, the Frenchmen were tasked with the unenvious job of opening the road and sweeping a clean line through the loose gravel.
Despite driving well, the lack of grip prevented them from challenging towards the head of the field and the World Champions were left with no option but to deliver a clean run and consolidate as many championship points as possible.
True professions, the pairing did just that. Keeping their Ford Fiesta WRC well clear of the event’s notorious pitfalls, Ogier secured fifth place and an additional three points through the Power Stage to maintain his lead at the head of the championship.
SS16: 8th (+16.0)
SS17: 4th (+12.0)
SS18: 3rd (+2.0)
SS19: 3rd (+1.3)
Sébastien Ogier (5th) said:
It wasn’t the best weekend for us but we’ve come away with 13 points and that is definitely a positive after such a tough few days.
“To lead the championship at the mid-point of the season is great – as long as you’re in the lead, you know that you are doing well.
“Congratulations to Ott on the win. He fully deserves it and it is another fantastic result for the team who have all worked so hard this weekend.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt started their Rally Italia Sardegna well and were just 0.5 seconds adrift of the lead after the opening Super Special.
Unfortunately, they would only get two more stages under their belt. Caught-out by a dip after a tightening corner on the first pass of Tula (SS4), the pairing slid off the road and sustained damaged the front-right suspension of their Ford Fiesta WRC.
Returning to the stages under Rally 2 regulations, Evans focused on racking up the kilometres. Having missed out on valuable data through the opening speed tests, the Welshman tasked himself with delivering a clean run through the remaining kilometres so as to collect vital information for future development.
SS16: 7th (+14.1)
SS17: 11th (+22.9)
SS18: nominal time
SS19: 7th (+7.8)
Elfyn Evans said:
“Congratulations to Ott who really deserved the victory this weekend. We’ve got such a strong team around us at the moment and they’ve all worked their socks off so a massive congratulations to them as well.
“It’s fair to say that this weekend didn’t go our way, but we’ll focus on the positives and look forward to the next event in Poland.
“After the time loss on Friday it was really important to get the mileage under our belts. This is one of the most abrasive rallies of the year and we collected a lot of data that can be put to good use for future development.”
ELSEWHERE IN THE TEAM
Éric Camilli and Benjamin Veillas secured victory with the Ford Fiesta R5 Evo2 in the RC2 class. Locked in an intense battle with Jan Kopecky, the Frenchmen came out on top – claiming victory with an advantage of 5.6 seconds.
Never out of the top three on individual stage times – and only out of the top-two once – Camilli delivered an impressive drive whilst highlighting the strength and performance of M-Sport’s most successful global rally car.
In the sister M-Sport Fiesta R5 Evo2, Pierre-Louis Loubet and Vincent Landais didn’t have the best of fortunes but showed impressive progress since their previous outing at Rally de Portugal.
Going off the road through the second pass of Tula (SS8), the pairing will nevertheless be pleased with their pace – setting a number of top times in the RC2 class including the fastest time through the first pass of Monte Olia (SS3).
Éric Camilli (1st RC2) said:
“I have always enjoyed Rally Italia Sardegna and I have especially enjoyed this weekend. The car has been perfect, the driving has been good and Benji has been word-perfect.
“It was a really good battle with Jan [Kopecky], but we pushed hard today and it’s great to come out on top with the victory.
“I’m taking a lot of pleasure away from this weekend and the team have been amazing. Everyone is working so hard and I think they should really enjoy the celebrations tonight!”
Pierre-Louis Loubet (6th RC2 / 5th WRC 2) said:
“The result may not have been what we were hoping for, but the pace has been good and I think we can be really happy with the progress we’ve shown since Portugal. I wasn’t very lucky during this rally, but we are working hard and learning all the time. The confidence is growing and I’m sure we can secure some good results later in the year.”
1. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3:25:15.1
2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +12.3
3. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) +1:07.7
4. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:12.9
5. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:25.3
6. Juho Hänninen / Kaj Lindstrom (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3:38.5
7. Mads Østberg / Ola Fløene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +6:31.8
8. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Citroen C3 WRC) +8:07.8
9. Éric Camilli / Benjamin Veillas (Ford Fiesta R5 Evo2) +11:15.8
10. Jan Kopecky / Pavel Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) +11:21.4
1. Sébastien Ogier - 141
2. Thierry Neuville - 123
3. Ott Tänak - 108
4. Jari-Matti Latvala - 107
5. Dani Sordo - 70
6. Elfyn Evans - 53
7. Craig Breen - 43
8. Hayden Paddon - 33
9. Juha Hänninen - 29
10. Kris Meeke - 27
1. M-Sport World Rally Team - 234
2. Hyundai Motorsport - 194
3. Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC - 143
4. Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team - 97