Rally GB WRC: Tanak extends points lead with win
Ott Tanak has strengthened his WRC title bid with victory on Rally GB, scoring a maximum 30 points by topping the Power Stage.
A storming drive on the pair of Friday night stages, Dyfnant and Aberhirnant, then propelled Tanak into a lead he would gradually extend over the next two days.
His only other concern was on Saturday afternoon, when a compression ripped the rear bumper off his Toyota Yaris WRC on Sweet Lamb and left him struggling to hear co-driver Martin Jarveoja’s notes, though there was no noticeable impact on his pace.
Tanak’s advantage in the championship is now up to 28 points, giving him a strong chance of wrapping up a first world title with a round to spare in Spain.
Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville had been slower out of the blocks than his fellow title rivals, spending the first half of the rally in fourth place.
A push on Saturday’s afternoon loop gave Neuville stage wins on Myherin and Dyfi and put him past both Citroen’s Sebastien Ogier and Meeke, then continuing to pull away from Ogier on the final day to secure second place.
Ogier admitted his pace on the final day was “not so great” though his buffer to fourth-placed Meeke before Sunday’s stages was sufficient to wrap up the final podium position.
Despite a lack of speed in the morning, he stepped up the pace on the Brenig Power Stage, picking up four bonus points while Neuville could only muster fifth-fastest time.
Citroen's Esapekka Lappi, who had crashed out and retired on Friday, lent a helping hand to teammate Ogier on the Power Stage by going third fastest, adding an extra car between himself and Neuville along with M-Sport’s Elfyn Evans.
Evans completed the top five in the lead Ford Fiesta WRC, overhauling Andreas Mikkelsen on the final day with a stage win on the first pass of Brenig and then locking down the place with a further fastest time on the second pass of Alwen.
Over 40 seconds had been lost by Evans on Friday’s second stage, when he ran wide and damaged the suspension on his Fiesta, but he climbed back up the leaderboard with seven stage wins across three days.
Mikkelsen’s choice of four soft tyres for the Sunday morning loop backfired and had cost him nearly five seconds on Brenig, and his push to retake fifth during the final loop backfired on Alwen when he overshot a hairpin and nearly stalled.
Pontus Tidemand finished a lonely seventh in the second M-Sport Fiesta. He gained a place when teammate Teemu Suninen withdrew on Saturday evening with extensive damage picked up from a puncture that could not be remedied.
An intra-team battle at Hyundai over fifth place between Mikkelsen and Craig Breen on Saturday had come to an end when Breen rolled on Myherin, losing over five minutes and consigning him to eighth at the finish.
Petter Solberg completed the top 10 in a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 and took victory in the WRC2 class for privateer R5-specification cars, in what has been billed his final appearance in a WRC event.
The 2003 world champion was in a distant second after Friday’s stages until a puncture on Dyfi for Pierre-Louis Loubet brought him back into contention.
By the Saturday afternoon pass of Myherin, Solberg had taken the lead from Loubet and edged further ahead for the rest of the rally.
Rally GB WRC: Tanak stays in lead, Neuville rises to second
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