Dani Sordo won only his second ever World Rally Championship event on the final stage of Rally Italia Sardegna after a steering problem for new championship leader Ott Tänak demoted him to fifth.
The Estonian had gone into the rally ending Sassari – Argentiera 2 test with a 26.7 seconds advantage over Sordo, but a steering issue midway through the stage caused him to spin and limp to the end of the stage.
Tänak ended up losing over two minutes on the stage winning time of Andreas Mikkelsen, although did still salvage fifth overall and enough championship points to leapfrog Sebastien Ogier following the defending champions problems throughout this weekend.
Mikkelsen won all four of Sunday’s stages and ended up pipping Elfyn Evans into third overall by just 0.9 seconds, despite the Welshman being given seven seconds back by the organisers after the dust from Kris Meeke was deemed to have held him up on the final stage on Saturday.
Teemu Suninen was promoted to second as a result of Tänak’s demise and sealed his best WRC finish to date in the second M–Sport Ford Fiesta WRC. Thierry Neuville, who had a difficult weekend, rounded out the top six overall.
The gap at the top of the championship standings between Tanak, Ogier and Neuville is now just seven points. Despite his retirement on Saturday, Ogier restarted on the final day and took the second fastest time on the Power Stage scoring him four vital championship points.
Esapkekka Lappi and Meeke completed the WRC finishers, while Kalle Rovanperä sealed his WRC2 PRO victory ahead of teammate Jan Kopecký and the pair finished the Italian event in ninth and tenth overall.
WRC2 meanwhile also saw late drama, with Pierre-Louis Loubet recovering to secure his second win in a row after Takamoto Katsuta’s Ford Fiesta R5 suffered an exhaust fire and he was forced to retire from the lead. This promoted Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Simone Tempestini into the other two podium positions.
Finally, the Junior WRC victory in Italy went to Jan Solans after he got the better of his rival throughout the weekend Denis Rådström on the penultimate stage on Sunday before extending his margin on the final test.
Tom Kristensson finished third, while British driver Tom Williams was forced to retire with a damaged sump also on the final stage after hitting a rock.
The 2019 FIA World Rally Championship now heads for its summer break, with Rally Finland next on the calendar between August 1-4.