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Tanak ends long win drought in Sardinia

Tanak ends long win drought in Sardinia

FIA World Rally Championship – Rally Sweden – Stage 3 of Second Round – Torsby, Sweden – February 14, 2020 Estonia’s Ott Tanak speaks. TT News Agency/Micke Fransson via REUTERS

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June 5 (Reuters) – Ott Tanak won a world rally championship round for the first time in more than a year and ended Hyundai’s season-long drought with a dominant victory in Rally Italy Sardinia on Sunday.

The Estonian, world champion in 2019, had led since Saturday morning when Toyota’s Esapekka Lappi crashed. He finished one minute and 3.2 seconds clear of M-Sport Ford’s Irish driver Craig Breen.

Spaniard Dani Sordo was third for Hyundai with M-Sport’s Pierre-Louis Loubet a career-best fourth and Toyota’s championship leader Kalle Rovanpera fifth.

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Rovanpera extended his overall lead to 55 points, with closest rival Thierry Neuville, in a Hyundai, retiring on Saturday but returning to salvage five bonus points from the final Power Stage.

« The most important thing is that we got more points than Thierry, » said Rovanpera.

The victory in the fifth round of the season was Tanak’s first since the Arctic Rally in Finland in February 2021 — a gap of 462 days between wins — and ended Rovanpera’s run of three triumphs in a row.

« It’s been very challenging, especially since the beginning of this (hybrid) generation (of cars), » said Tanak, who won nine of the 21 gravel stages in Sardinia.

« We are definitely very happy, especially for the mechanics. They put in an incredible effort all last year and the beginning of this year. »

The next round is the Kenyan Safari Rally from June 23-26.

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Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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