Tanak storms to victory at WRC Rally Argentina

  As expected, Ott Tanak has scored the victory at the WRC Rally Argentina; his third WRC win and first for Toyota.

After dictating the opening two legs, the Estonian eased through the classic El Condor and Giulio Cesare speed tests in the rock-strewn Traslasierra mountains to win this fifth round of the World Rally Championship by 37.7 seconds. There was a scare for the Toyota driver as he looked down and out after hitting a rock, spinning his Yaris WRC and damaging its steering on Friday’s opening special stage. But, he turned up the juice to win 10 of the next 12 tests to storm into a comfortable lead, leaving his rivals fighting over the remaining podium places. It was his first win since August last year in Germany, and Toyota’s first success since last July in Finland.

“It’s a special one. We never knew what was going to happen with the team change but it’s nice to see how quickly we’re improving. The car is near enough to my liking and it’s a massive boost for a driver if you have the confidence. I can’t say it was easy, I was pushing really hard and living on the edge on Friday and Saturday,” said Tänak.

Hyundai’s lead driver Thierry Neuville took second and got hopes in his title fight. He narrowed the gap to championship leader Sébastien Ogier to 10 points, helped by a maximum five bonus points for winning the final Power Stage in his Hyundai i20. Team-mate Dani Sordo finished a further 38.0 sec behind in third to maintain his recent good form, which has delivered two podiums from the last three events.

Five-time champion Ogier, still on the hunt for the win at Rally Argentina, lacked the pace to improve on his record of three wins from the opening four rounds in a Ford Fiesta. The Frenchman held off a determined final day charge from former team mate Andreas Mikkelsen to claim fourth. Mikkelsen felt more comfortable with the handling of his i20 and fell 4.0s short of overhauling Ogier.

Behind the leaders, Elfyn Evans completed the top six in another Fiesta, despite rarely finding the pace which brought him within 0.7s of victory 12 months ago.

The championship heads back to Europe for the Rally Portugal, round six, from 17 – 20 May.

2018 WRC Rally Argentina classification

1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 3hr 43min 28.9sec
2. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 + 37.7sec
3. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 + 1min 15.7sec
4. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Ford Fiesta + 1min 58.6sec
5. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger NOR Hyundai i20 + 2min 02.6sec
6. E Evans / P Mills GBR Ford Fiesta + 3min 06.3sec

Drivers standings

1. S Ogier 100pts
2. T Neuville 90pts
3. O Tänak 72pts