Courtesy of FIA – WRC Media Service Team
Estonian digs in to take fifth win from the last seven rallies.
Ott Tänak clinched a
hard-earned win at Wales Rally GB on Sunday afternoon to move within
touching distance of a maiden FIA World Rally Championship title.
fifth victory from the last seven rounds was topped off with maximum
bonus points from the final Wolf Power Stage. He will secure the crown
if he wins the penultimate round in Spain later this month.
10.9sec success was far from easy. Muddy forest roads, rain and fog in
north and mid-Wales meant the Toyota Yaris driver had to be at his best
to fend off title rivals Thierry Neuville and Sébastien Ogier.
They snapped at Tänak’s heels after he claimed the lead from team-mate Kris Meeke
late on Friday night. The Estonian held them at bay and the pair helped
Toyota Gazoo Racing cut Hyundai Motorsport’s manufacturers’
championship lead to eight points.
“It was a long weekend with
long days and short nights and a lot of pressure. I guess the gap was
never bigger than 10 seconds and every stage I was on the limit,” Tänak
“It was a hard one, but it feels good at the moment.
We still have two more rallies to go and we have seen plenty of drama
in the past, so we need to keep focused.”
Neuville, without a
win since April, emerged as the closest challenger in his Hyundai i20.
However, in a rally where the time gaps were small despite the tricky
conditions, the Belgian couldn’t make inroads in Sunday’s closing four
speed tests close to the rally base in Llandudno.
completed the podium in his Citroën C3, a further 12.9sec back. The
Frenchman’s hopes of a seventh straight title are dwindling as he trails
Tänak by 28 points with a maximum 60 available. Neuville is 41 points
off the lead.
Meeke led throughout Friday’s first full day in
his Yaris but couldn’t reproduce the same pace over the weekend. He
finished 11.8sec behind Ogier and a similar margin clear of the battle
for fifth between Elfyn Evans and Andreas Mikkelsen.
trailed the Norwegian on Sunday morning after damaging his Ford
Fiesta’s suspension when he ran wide at fast corner on Friday. The
Welshman, the winner in Britain in 2017, charged back up the order and
relegated Mikkelsen by 9.6sec.
The WRC moves to Spain later
this month for the penultimate round and the only mixed surface fixture
of the year. RallyRACC Catalunya – Rally de España is based in Salou
from October 24 – 27.
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 3hr 00min 58.0sec
2. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +10.9sec
3. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Citroën C3 +23.8sec
4. K Meeke / S Marshall GBR Toyota Yaris +35.6sec
5. E Evans / S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta +48.6sec
6. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger-Amland NOR Hyundai i20 +58.2sec
FIA World Rally Championship (after round 12 of 14)
1. O Tänak 240pts
2. S Ogier 212pts
3. T Neuville 199pts
The official Home of World Rallying: wrc.com