The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team enjoyed a strong first full day of Rally Italia Sardegna, with Ott Tänak firmly in the fight for the lead overnight after overcoming difficult conditions at the front of the road order. Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala also led during the day before a small mistake cost him several minutes.
The day consisted of two loops of four stages held in very hot and dry conditions on Sardinia, with temperatures peaking at around 40°c. Latvala produced a fine performance in the morning, taking the lead on SS4 and holding an advantage of 2.8 seconds over Tänak during mid-day service. On SS6, Latvala clipped the inside of a hairpin and rolled his car: He and co-driver Miikka Anttila worked hard in the searing heat to right the car but lost over eight minutes. Not giving up, Latvala returned to set a competitive time in the next test, before going off the road and retiring in SS9. The team will work to prepare the car to restart tomorrow.
Tänak had to run second on the road during the morning and then first during the afternoon after the car in front of him retired. Despite having to sweep the loose gravel clear, he showed strong and consistent speed, including a stage win. In the afternoon he was further disadvantaged when a stage was cancelled after he passed through it, meaning he had tyres that were more worn than his direct rivals. He ended the day third, 11.2s from the leader and 0.4s behind second place.
Having not contested the event last year, Kris Meeke was tackling stages that were new for him and finished the morning loop in eighth position. He was stronger on the second pass in the afternoon and ended the day sixth, less than half a minute from the rally lead.
Driving a fourth Yaris WRC entered privately by Tommi Mäkinen Racing in his role as the team’s test driver, Juho Hänninen is ninth overall and was second fastest on SS8.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“Overall it’s been quite a strong day for us. Jari-Matti was doing really well this morning and leading the rally, so it was a shame that he rolled this afternoon. It seems the car was still running OK after that, but then something happened with the steering in the final stage and he went off the road. Once again, Ott has been very strong on a Friday despite being at the front of the road order. It was a great job by him and he is in a good position going into tomorrow, even though he had to do an extra stage on his tyres this afternoon. I think Kris always knew today wouldn’t be easy as he didn’t know the stages, but I think he managed it well and he can move forward tomorrow.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“We had a really good morning. It was very hot and I knew the tyre wear would be high in those conditions, so I took five hard tyres and I think it was a great choice. Then in the first stage of the afternoon, at a hairpin I pulled the handbrake too early, we cut the inside of the corner and rolled. It was a stupid mistake. It took a lot of effort for Miikka and I to get the car back on its wheels. The car was driving fine in the next stage and we could set a good time. But on the last stage, accelerating out of a hairpin the steering locked to the left and we went off the road and couldn’t continue. It’s difficult to take at the moment but hopefully we can come back and enjoy it tomorrow.”
END OF DAY TWO (FRIDAY)
1 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 1h36m01.5s
2 Teemu Suninen/Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +10.8s
3 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +11.2s
4 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger-Amland (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +20.2s
5 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +20.3s
6 Kris Meeke/Seb Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +29.5s
7 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +57.7s
8 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +1m03.5s
9 Juho Hänninen/Tomi Tuominen (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2m38.0s
10 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (Skoda Fabia R5) +2m50.3s
TBC Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC)
Saturday is the longest day of the rally, containing 142.42 competitive kilometres. The three stages, each run twice either side of mid-day service in Alghero, are the furthest east on the event.
Press release TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT