Tanak wins Rally GB to boost world title bid - GulfToday

Tanak wins Rally GB to boost world title bid

Tanak wins Rally GB to boost world title bid

Ott Tanak (right) and co pilot Martin Jarveoja hold the winner’s trophy after winning the Wales Rally GB in northwest Wales on Sunday. Agence France-Presse

London: Ott Tanak won the Wales Rally GB on Sunday to move a step closer to his first World Rally Championship title.

Tanak, 31, has won five of the last seven rounds and he completed his latest success in Wales with maximum bonus points from the final Wolf Power Stage.

The Estonian will secure the title if he wins the penultimate round in Spain later this month.

Tanak’s 10.9-second success was far from easy as he fended off title rivals Thierry Neuville and Sebastien Ogier in treacherous conditions.

They kept the pressure on Tanak after he claimed the lead from team-mate Kris Meeke late on Friday, but he held his nerve to secure a crucial success.

“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,” Tanak said.

“It was a long weekend with long days and short nights and a lot of pressure. I guess the gap was never bigger than 10sec and every stage I was on the limit,” Tanak said.

“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. But in a rally where the time gaps were small despite the tricky conditions, the Belgian could not make inroads in Sunday’s closing four speed tests close to the rally base in Llandudno.

Ogier completed the podium in a Citroen C3, a further 12.9sec back. The Frenchman’s hopes of a seventh straight title are dwindling as he trails Tanak 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 could not 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.

Evans 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.

Team-mate Teemu Suninen failed to restart today after damaging his car during a crash on Saturday, leaving the third Fiesta of Pontus Tidemand to take seventh. Craig Breen recovered from a spectacular roll to finish eighth in another i20.

Kalle Rovanperä was ninth in a Skoda Fabia, a result which secured the world title in the WRC 2 Pro support category. Former world champion Petter Solberg, a four-time Rally GB winner, finished 10th and won WRC 2 in an emotional final rally before retirement.

Agencies