Ott Tanak wins his first WRC in Italy

Ott Tanak scored his first World Rally Championship victory on Rally Italy in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC. It was a rally of attrition, thrown on its head on Saturday afternoon when long-time leader Hayden Paddon crashed his Hyundai into a bank on SS13 and retired on the following road section.

The Estonian then pushed hard to build up a gap to Toyota's Jari-Matti Latvala, who lost time with a stall on SS17 on Sunday morning, effectively ending his charge. Latvala was desperate to take powerstage honours but ran wide in a tight left-hander, and was inconsolable at the finish.

Thierry Neuville rounded out the podium, although he would have likely been the one to inherit the lead from Paddon had he not had brake issues on Saturday.The Belgian driver lost the brakes completely, just as he was closing on Paddon for the lead.

Star of the weekend was Esapekka Lappi, who won the powerstage to take his sixth stage victory of the weekend, on only his second event in a 2017 WRC car with Toyota. He had gearbox issues on Friday morning, losing second gear, which cost him time, before winning his first stage of the weekend on the final stage of the loop despite the problems.

Sebastien Ogier never looked happy all weekend, as he swept the road and ended Friday 41 seconds off the lead. When he wasn't sweeping the road, he suffered from understeer and struggled to find the sweetspot with his M-Sport Fiesta.

Juho Hanninen lost fifth to Ogier on the final stage with steering issues, but still finished sixth despite crashing on Friday's Tergu SS9, when he had been only 7.9s off the lead on the previous stage. Mads Ostberg had a problem-filled weekend capped off by his rear-right wheel pointing in the wrong direction on the powerstage, but still got his Fiesta home to finish seventh.

Andreas Mikkelsen headed the Citroen charge on his debut with the team in eighth place. A puncture was his only worry, as he worked to adapt to a car driven from the rear, contrary to his usual understeer-favouring style.

His team-mate Kris Meeke crashed out as he challenged for the lead on Friday, while Craig Breen looked to be heading for the top 10 before a landing after a jump dislodged the gearbox mounting and forced him out and into Rally2 on Saturday. Elfyn Evans was another driver to return under Rally2 on Saturday after hitting a tree on Friday and a compression launched the DMACK Fiesta off the road.

Another great performance saw Jan Kopecky win WRC2 in his Skoda Fabia R5, finishing 10th overall.

Top Ten Finishers:
Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja M-Sport World Rally Team 3h25m15.1s
2 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC 12.3s
3 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Motorsport 1m07.7s
4 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC 2m12.9s
5 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia M-Sport World Rally Team 3m25.3s
6 Juho Hanninen, K.Lindstrom Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC 3m38.5s
7 Mads Ostberg, O.Floene M-Sport World Rally Team 6m31.8s
8 Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT 8m07.8s
9 Eric Camilli, B.Veillas M-Sport World Rally Team 11m15.8s
10 Jan Kopecky, P.Dresler Skoda Motorsport II 11m21.4s

14th June, 2017