By winning nine of the eighteen stages contested since Thursday (two were canceled on Friday and one was interrupted on Saturday), the 2019 Estonian world champion has not only outrageously dominated his opponents, he has exceeded the milestone of 300 stages won. in his career. As comfortable at the wheel of his Hyundai on the narrow tracks as on the tricky dirt bumps that make the reputation of the Sardinian event, Tänak managed perfectly, without particularly forcing but without showing any weaknesses. After a perfect Saturday (six wins in seven specials), he continued on Sunday in the Alghero region (north-west of the island).
Already a winner in Sardinia in 2017, he pocketed two of the four Sunday specials (SS18 and SS20) against resigned rivals waiting for the “Power Stage” (SS21), offering additional points to the first five in this final stopwatch of 7, 1 km. Besides his driving, Tänak, the only one to have won a world championship in the last 18 years apart from the French ogres Sébastien Loeb and Sébastien Ogier, has also had a bit of success. On Friday the last two stages were canceled when he had a transmission problem which could have lost him time and on Saturday he took advantage of Finnish leader Esapekka Lappi’s early exit. With his first victory since February 2021 (15th rally success), Tänak returns to 3rd place in the world championship at the end of this 5th round (out of 13).
The Estonian even thought he could take second place from Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), who had a difficult weekend between mechanical problems on Friday and retirement on Saturday. But the Belgian saved his place as runner-up by winning the Power Stage, thus returning from Sardinia despite everything with five points, which allows him to keep three on Tänak in the championship. A championship more than ever dominated by Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota), not wildly comfortable on the slippery ground of Sardinia. But, in the absence of a fourth success in a row, after winning in Sweden, Croatia and Portugal, the young Finn preserved a useful 5th place which allows him to increase his lead over Neuville to 55 points. “Taking more points than Thierry is the most important thing,” he summed up. Irishman Craig Breen (Ford) and Spaniard Dani Sordo (Hyundai) engaged in a good duel to complete in this order a podium from which Toyota is excluded for the first time this season.
The other leader of the weekend was the French Pierre-Louis Loubet, very consistent during the three days to win the best ranking of his career in the WRC (4th). The winner of the lower WRC2 category in 2019 remained in contact with the leading trio without error of concentration. Unlike his compatriot and teammate at Ford Adrien Fourmaux who, after a good rally until Saturday evening, made a mistake on the last special of the day when he was 5th and could not resume on Sunday. In the next round, two other French people will be the focus of attention: Ogier and Loeb, only entered in certain events, are expected in Kenya (June 23-26).