Unexpected victory, double podium finish for Hyundai in Rally Italia Sardegna

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Hyundai Motorsport has taken its third victory of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) on Sunday after a dramatic end to Rally Italia Sardegna that saw Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio crowned winners.

The Spanish crew headed into the final morning with the aim of securing second place after a competitive weekend. However, problems for rally leader Ott Tänak on the Power Stage saw the Estonian drop down more than two minutes in the order. Having secured the runner-up position, Sordo was unexpectedly elevated to the top spot to claim his first victory for Hyundai Motorsport and the second WRC win of his career.

Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jaeger-Amland had their sights set on fourth place but had to dig deep to overturn a 14-second deficit to Elfyn Evans. The Norwegians went about the challenge in style, making a clean sweep of stage wins on the final morning. Their efforts were further rewarded as they moved up to third place to claim their second podium finish of 2019.

Sunday's itinerary included two runs through the 14,06 km Cala Flumini and 6,89 km Sassari-Argentiera stages - narrow, dusty and fast routes that demanded precision and commitment. The final run acted as the rally's Power Stage, offering additional points towards the drivers' championship with Mikkelsen scoring the maximum five points (for the first time since Spain 2015) and Thierry Neuville, who ended the rally in sixth place, picking up three extra points.

The surprise result sees Hyundai Motorsport extend its lead in the WRC manufacturers' standings to 46 points over Toyota Gazoo Racing. Neuville retains third place in the drivers' table on 143 points, 3 behind Sébastien Ogier and 7 adrift of Tänak with 6 events left of the season.

Crew notes: Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio

"This is incredible. I have no words; it's an amazing feeling to take my first win for Hyundai and the second WRC win of my career. Of course, I am very sorry for Ott and Toyota to have experienced such bad luck on the Power Stage," said Sordo.

"At the same time, we knew we had to keep the pressure on in case this sort of situation occurred. I just can't believe it happened. We have been quick and consistent all weekend. There was no chance to beat Ott on outright pace, so we just did what we could and avoided mistakes. It wasn't easy, but we made it through to the end - and we now have this fantastic victory as a reward. Thanks to Carlos and to the team for the support and for sharing this result."

Crew notes: Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger-Amland

Mikkelsen said: "We gave it a massive push on the final morning in an effort to cut the gap to Elfyn Evans. We had to dig deep, but we were confident in our chances. The car felt really good and we were properly in the zone. Taking all four stage wins was a fantastic feeling and we would have been content to take fourth. Unfortunately, Ott had his issues, which then handed us a podium finish, which was an unexpected butverywelcome bonus. Although it has been achieved at one of our rival's expense, we are grateful to score a 1-3 result this weekend."  

Crew notes: Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul

Neuville said: "Absolutely not the weekend we were looking for. We have not been in the fight, so it's been a case of damage limitation. A combination of incorrect tyre choice and other issues on Friday put us on the back foot from the start, and we've not been able to play a role since. We have to put it down to 'one of those weekends' and look to regroup and fight back in Finland. Congratulations to Dani; we have worked together at Hyundai for six years now and I am really pleased to see him and Carlos score their first win for the team."

Team director Andrea Adamo: "Personally, I find this result quite difficult to accept. Firstly, we extend our empathy to everyone at Toyota Gazoo Racing, to Tommi, Ott and Martin, for the cruel way that they had a deserved victory taken away from them.

"For the second time this season we have inherited a victory that we did not earn on the road. We should not have to rely on unreliability to secure these results. I appreciate that I am perhaps looking at things too much through a sympathetic lens but this is the reality of the situation.  At the same time, I am pleased for Dani and Carlos who have worked professionally all weekend, as have all our three crews, to put themselves in a position to capitalise on today's situation."

Next rally

The World Rally Championship takes its traditional summer break before the competition resumes with Rally Finland on 14 August. This popular event will be the fifth consecutive gravel rally on the 2019 calendar, with six weeks for teams and crews to prepare for the extreme high-speed challenge.

Final results of Rally Italia Sardegna:

 

1

D. Sordo/C. del Barrio

Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC

3:32:27.2

2

T. Suninen/J. Lehtinen

Ford Fiesta WRC

+13.7

3

A. Mikkelsen/A. Jaeger-Amland

Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC

+32.6

4

E. Evans/S. Martin

Ford Fiesta WRC

+33.5

5

O. Tänak/M. Järveoja

Toyota Yaris WRC

+1:30.1

6

T. Neuville/N. Gilsoul

Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC

+2:16.7

7

E. Lappi/J. Ferm

Citroën C3 WRC

+2:59.6

8

K. Meeke/S. Marshall

Toyota Yaris WRC

+4:40.1

9

K. Rovanperä/J. Halttunen

Skoda Fabia R5

+8:24.6

10

J. Kopecky/P. Dresler

Skoda Fabia R5

+8:49.2

 

Championship for Drivers' Standings:

 

1

O. Tänak

150

2

S. Ogier

146

3

T. Neuville

143

4

E. Evans

78

5

T. Suninen

62

6

K. Meeke

60

7

A. Mikkelsen

56

8

D. Sordo

52

9

E. Lappi

40

10

J.M. Latvala

40

11

S. Loeb

39

 

Championship for Manufacturers' Standings:

 

1

Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team

242

2

Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team

198

3

Citroën Total World Rally Team

170

4

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

152



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