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WRC Rally Italy

Tanak: Surprise Sardinia WRC win “really cruel” on Ogier

Ott Tanak says the way he snatched victory in Sardinia by the joint-smallest margin in World Rally Championship history was “really cruel” on rival Sebastien Ogier.

Tanak took a surprise victory by 0.2s from eight-time world champion Ogier after the Toyota driver picked up a puncture three kilometres from completing the new 16-stage shorter 266.12km rally.

The winning margin equalled the WRC’s closest-ever finish when Ogier beat Jari-Matti Latvala in Jordan 2011.

Ogier started Sunday with a 17.1s advantage over Tanak but that margin was whittled down to 6.2s heading into the final Sassari Power Stage before drama struck.

Tanak was shocked by the final stage drama and was quick to sympathise with his rival Ogier having lost a likely Sardinia win to a steering problem on the same stage in 2019.

“I was really surprised at what happened, I was focusing on Sunday points to score as much as I could,” said Tanak. “We were parked up and I saw Seb’s time and I saw at the midpoint that he was just one second behind. I didn’t know the time gap and I asked [co-driver] Martin [Jarveoja].

“In the end it is just a bunch of emotions. Obviously, it is very positive as we were not focusing at all [on the win] and were just focused on the Sunday, but we didn’t gain any points by winning the rally.

Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Toyota Racing

“It is really cruel for Seb to lose it like this. I have been there before myself, I have lost a safe victory on this stage, I know how bad it feels.”

Tanak had been locked in rally-long battle with Ogier, having led the Frenchman at the end of Saturday’s morning loop before Hyundai told the Estonian to be “safe and not push it” in the rough gravel conditions. The call wasn’t really a factor as Tanak struggled for confidence across Saturday afternoon before issuing a charge on Sunday morning.

Tanak’s first win in his second spell at Hyundai has moved the 2019 champion to tied second in the championship standings, 18 points behind team-mate Thierry Neuville. While pleased to be back in the title fight, he feels there is still work to be done to sustain his title pursuit.

“We can still see that we have some weak points especially on Saturday afternoon where it was not working for me, so we have plenty of work to do now we are going to completely different terrain. Hopefully I can find a good feeling and push on these rallies,” he added.

“I’m looking forward as I know what these rallies are about, but it is crucial to make the car to work.”

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