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How the WRC's bit-part player reignited Hyundai's challenge
In only his second World Rally Championship event of the year as part of the rotating pool of drivers in Hyundai's third car, Dani Sordo took a thoroughly deserved victory on Rally Italia Sardegna; his third career WRC win and his second in as many visits to Sardinia.
As the WRC continues to proceed cautiously out of lockdown, this final gravel round on the 2020 schedule felt much more like a full WRC event than either of the preceding events in Turkey or Estonia. Spectators and ceremonial events may have been absent (officially at least), but six timed stages on the opening day felt like business as usual.
Four of the six would be complete before the day's service halt, which meant that many crews took a measured approach early on. Championship leader Elfyn Evans had the job of running first on the road, thereby doing the lion's share of sweeping the loosest sand and gravel for everyone else's benefit.
Kalle Rovanpera broke a decade-old record in becoming the World Rally Championship's youngest-ever winner in a truly dominant performance on Estonia's fast gravel roads. Staving off the challenge of Hyundai's Craig Breen, his committed drive showed a maturity beyond his 20 years that gives Toyota's post-Ogier era a far brighter complexion
The World Rally Championship’s delayed return to the Safari Rally was always set throw up some surprises, but aside from a spirited showing by Thierry Neuville it became another painful event for Hyundai in 2021. Once again it was Sebastien Ogier who took full advantage as he completed a stunning comeback drive
For the second WRC gravel rally in a row, a promising Friday for Hyundai turned into desolation as Toyota gratefully picked up the pieces. This time it was championship leader Sebastien Ogier who took full advantage after Ott Tanak and Dani Sordo retired to score a memorable victory, having swept the road on the first two days
Hyundai Motorsport boss Andrea Adamo was vocal in his criticism of his team's tyre choices on Rally Croatia and declared that he "had better move my ass and solve it". Doing so will be vital to getting Hyundai's 2021 WRC title hopes back on track, but finding the root of the problem won't be the work of a moment
Sebastien Ogier was already in an incredibly tight fight at Rally Croatia before a surprise collision with public road traffic at the start of the final day. But the defending champion held his nerve to take a narrow victory and create further World Rally Championship history
With all three major manufacturers committing to the World Rally Championship’s hybrid era from 2022, the future of the series is assured for now, but it could lead to trickier twists and turns further down the road
Ott Tanak made up for a disastrous Monte Carlo Rally by leading all the way on the snow-kissed stages of the Arctic Rally Finland and in the process hit back at an event Toyota had been expected to dominate…
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