TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team are still celebrating mood , having clinched their second victory in as many events and their third victory at Rally de Portugal on Saturday.
[dropcap]H[/dropcap]aving been out front ever since the third stage of the rally on Friday, Tänak headed into the the final day’s five tests with a lead of 4.3 seconds over his team-mate Kris Meeke, who in turn was just 4.9s ahead of third place. Both were able to push hard through the first three stages to increase their advantages, setting the top two fastest times on each occasion. Meeke then had a spin in the penultimate stage, dropping him to third, before he clipped a tree stump on the inside of a corner at the start of the final stage and had to retire.
Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja controlled the final two stages perfectly to clinch victory by 15.9 seconds and record the third-fastest time in the Power Stage for three bonus points, ensuring Tänak closes to within two points of the leader in the drivers’ championship heading to the next round in Sardinia.
After stopping prior to Saturday’s final stage, Jari-Matti Latvala restarted this morning and gained four places to finish seventh overall. In doing so, he scored valubale points towards the manufacturers’ championship, where Toyota continues to close the gap to first position.
Reacting, Tommi Mäkinen Team Principal commended the winner but full of lamntation for Jari-Matti, had an issue during the race.
“This is another brilliant win for Ott and for the team,” he pointed out, adding,“He was really strong, leading from Friday despite being second on the road, and managing everything really well in some tough conditions. Well done to him and Martin. Our performance was very good throughout the weekend: We saw that the other two cars had the speed to be up there as well. Unfortunately, Jari-Matti had the issue yesterday, and Kris made a small mistake today that was quite costly. But things are still going in the right direction in both championships and we are looking forward with confidence.”
Ott Tänak Driver car 8 said he had to fight very had to record the victory on Saturday.
“It feels great to stand on the top step of the podium today,” he said. “It’s been a long and very tough weekend, definitely the hardest win I’ve ever had. From Friday, our performance was really strong, especially considering our road position. On Saturday we had to fight really hard, but today everything was working well and the speed was there. In the first stage I was a bit careful, as there was a lot of tricky dust and it was difficult to see anything, but after this we could safely push a bit more and build a bigger gap. The championship is looking really tight but I think we are in a good position going to Sardinia.”
FINAL RESULT, RALLY DE PORTUGAL
- Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3h20m22.8s
- Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +15.9s
- Sebastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +57.1s
- Teemu Suninen / Marko Salminen – (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2m41.5s
- Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin -(Ford Fiesta WRC) +7m08.3s
- Kalle Rovanperä / Jonne Halttunen -(Skoda Fabia R5 Evo) +10m34.2s
- Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila -(Toyota Yaris WRC) +11m28.2s
- Jan Kopecky / Pavel Dresler – (Skoda Fabia R5 Evo) +11m41.9s
- Pierre-Louis Loubet / Vincent Landais -(Skoda Fabia R5) +12m46.3s
- Emil Bergkvist / Patrik Barth -(Ford Fiesta R5) +14m28.4s
- Kris Meeke / Seb Marshall -(Toyota Yaris WRC)
Rally Italia Sardegna (June 13-16) features fast and narrow stages coated with fine and sandy gravel, which is swept away by each passing car to leave rockier and rutted roads. Exposed rocks, as well as trees at the side of the road, can catch out the unwary. Temperatures can often be high, increasing the stress on the cars and the tyres.