Toyota’s Ott Tanak with co-driver Martin Jarveoja scored back-to-back FIA World Rally Championship wins in Rally Germany on Sunday.
The Estonian started off well in his Yaris WRC car to build a 12.3s advantage over M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC’s Sebastien Ogier (co-driver Julien Ingrassia) after Friday running. Tanak won six of the seven stages run with Ogier winning SS2.
The Toyota driver carried his form into Saturday as well. Even though he couldn’t win any of the stages but his advantage was 43.7s now against Hyundai’s Dani Sordo (co-driver Carlos del Barrio) after Ogier’s puncture late in the day.
It made Tanak’s work on Sunday easier as the Estonian took it calmly to claim his third win of the 2018 season – now on par on victories with Ogier and Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville (co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul).
The Estonian won by a 39.2s margin over Neuville, who fought his way after encountering early troubles. The Belgian was third on Friday despite having an oil leak in his gearbox. He then lost some time to slip to fourth on Saturday.
But he regained his confidence on Sunday as he won SS16 to pull himself up and was then helped by retirements to Sordo and Toyota’s Jari-Matti Latvala (co-driver Miikka Anttila) to finish second and extend his points lead with 172 now.
One Toyota’s loss was another’s gain as Esapekka Lappi (co-driver Janne Ferm) completed the podium positions. The Finn was fifth after Saturday’s run (includes a win SS10) and held on to his place which then became third after retirements to Sordo and Latvala.
The DNFs also helped Ogier as the Frenchman could recover places in the title battle against Neuville. The Ford driver was going well on Friday, but a puncture in SS13 set him back to finish seventh on Saturday.
To add to his SS2 win from Friday, Ogier won in SS17 and SS18 (Power Stage) to finish a respectable fourth and gain some extra points to have 149 now. Ogier’s teammate Teemu Suninen (co-driver Mikko Markkula) followed him in fifth.
The Finn lagged behind early on to be only eighth after Saturday, but recovered well especially on the final day in SS16 to leapfrog Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen (co-driver Anders Jæger-Synnevaag).
The Norwegian, on the other hand, wasn’t comfortable all-through driving the i20 to only finish sixth. The lead and the only Citroen to see-through the rally was Craig Breen (co-driver Scott Martin) in seventh.
The Irish driver had a crash in the final stage on Saturday which set him further back in the lower end among the WRC runners, while his teammate Mads Ostberg (co-driver Torstein Eriksen) retired along with Sordo and Latvala early on Sunday.
The last among the WRC runners was M-Sport Ford Fiesta’s Elfyn Evans (co-driver Daniel Barritt), finishing 25th overall. The British driver slid into a field on Saturday in SS11 and was on a recovery mode since then on.
The big change in the manufacturers’ championship see Ford slip behind Toyota now with the later on 224 and the former with 241, closing in on Hyundai which sits on top with 254 after nine rallies in the season.