Ogier wins Rally of Italy in Toyota 1-2

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World champion Sebastien Ogier of Toyota claimed victory in the Rally of Italy on Sunday ahead of Welsh teammate Elfyn Evans and Belgium's Thierry Neuville of Hyundai.

The 52nd World Rally Championship victory for Frenchman Ogier allowed the seven-time world champion to extend his lead on Evans in the overall standings to 11 points after five of the 12 rounds.

"A very good weekend," was his assessment.

As championship leader he had the disadvantage of opening on tricky, rock-filled roads bordered by ditches.

"It's been an incredible weekend," he said. "Coming here first on the road, we were thinking we better stay home."

Ogier, 37 and with Julien Ingrassia as co-pilot, had already won in Monte Carlo and Croatia this season, and his victory Sunday was a fourth career win on Sardinian soil.

Ogier had a scare on one of the fords.

"I had a misfire for a long time after the water splash," he said. "We survived, but lost a couple of seconds there."

Evans also had a scare in the water.

The Welshman, never in the running for victory, tackled the last ford of the final power stage too quickly. His engine stalled and flooded and then took an age to restart but he limped in sixth on the stage, saving his second place overall and the Toyota one-two.

"It took in some water and took a while to clear," he said. "Thankfully we got back on four cylinders and at least we were able to continue. Not the nicest feeling."

Ott Tanak won five of the eight stages on Friday with Hyundai team-mate Dani Sordo winning the other three. Tanak also won the opening stage on Saturday.

As they did in the previous round in Portugal, the Toyota drivers waited patiently for things to go wrong for the Hyundais. In that race, Evans won with Ogier third and Sordo third after Neuville crashed out when in second place on stage seven and Tanak hit trouble on stage 14, while leading.

In Sardinia, disaster again struck on the Saturday for Tanak. He was cruising along 40 seconds ahead when he wrecked his car against a rock on stage 12, allowing Ogier to take the lead.

Three stages later, Sordo, who was in second place, also went off the road and hit a rock, ending up with a wheel in the ditch and his car on its side.

Ahead of the three week break before Safari Rally in Kenya, Hyundai has started to modify many things on their cars, notably the suspension.

"The car is really fast now, so there is nothing stopping us, just the small things," said Tanak at the finish on Sunday.

"It's a fast car, and we just need to make it reliable. I am sure we can do it."

His team-mates were less sure after struggling all weekend with a feeling that the cars did not suit them.

"The speed on some stages was okay, but nothing much more positive," said Sordo. "We go home a little bit disappointed, but sometimes it's like this."

The third Hyundai driver Neuville agreed.

"It was a few things which came together which didn't work out properly," the Belgian said. "Better times will come."

The next race takes the drivers into unknown territory as Kenya returns to the calendar after a 19year gap on June 24-27


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