WRC Rally Italia Sardegna: Tänak running out of time to defend title ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja and the Hyundai i20 at WRC Rally Turkey 2020.
Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja and the Hyundai i20 at WRC Rally Turkey 2020. Source: Hyundai Motorsport

WRC Rally Italia Sardegna 2020, the third round of the relaunched World Rally Championship (WRC) season, will begin on 1.01 p.m. Estonian time on Thursday with a test shakedown stage. The official first stage will begin on Friday at 8.50 a.m., Estonian time.

Reigning world champion Ott Tänak (Hyundai) said last week the roads of Rally Sardegna require preparation for wet weather or other conditions relevant to the time of year.

"Sardinia is usually a hot and difficult rally, but this year the stage takes place later, which can mean difficult weather conditions. Rainy weather can change the nature of the whole rally, so be prepared for different situations," Tänak, who won the 2017 event for Toyota, said.

Usually the first summer race of the season, the round has now been moved back to October due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The race is the penultimate of the season, and with Tänak lying in third place on 70 points, he needs to perform well, and hope his rivals do not, in order to keep any hopes of a back-to-back title alive after a disappointing Rally Turkey, which followed his victory in front of a home crowd at Rally Estonia more than a month ago.

Welshman Elfyn Evans tops the table for Toyota on 97 points, with six-time world champion Sebastien Ogier, also with Toyota in second place, on 79 points.

Fifth-placed man Thierry Neuville, Tänak's teammate, said of the upcoming race that: "The Sardinian rally is run on beautiful roads, the test stages are fluid and narrow and fit my driving style."

There are three constructors in the full WRC season this year, following Citroen's departure after the 2019 season.

Toyota - the team Tänak won last year's title with - holds the lead in the manufacturers' rankings with 174 points, but Hyundai is only nine points behind. M-Sport Ford is third, and last, with 101 points.

The full organizer's programme of the event is as follows:

Thursday, October 8:

Shakedown - 3.79 km - 1.01 p.m.

Friday, October 9:

SS1 Tempio Pausania 1 - 12.08 km - 8.50 a.m.
SS2 Erula Tula 1 - 21.78 km - 9.44 a.m.
SS3 Tempio Pausania 2 - 12.08 km - 11.40 a.m.
SS4 Erula Tula 2 - 21.78 km - 12.34 p.m.
SS5 Sedini Castelsardo 1 - 14.72 km - 5.14 p.m.
SS6 Tergu Osilo 1 - 12.81 km - 5.59 p.m.

Sunday, October 10:

SS7 Monte Lerno 1 - 22.08 km - 8.37 a.m.
SS8 Coiluna Loelle 1 - 15.00 km - 9.38 a.m.
SS9 Monte Lerno 2 - 22.08 km - 11.07 a.m.
SS10 Coiluna Loelle 2 - 15.00 km - 12.08 p.m.
SS11 Sedini Castelsardo 2 - 14.72 km 5.08 p.m.
SS12 Tergu Osilo 2 - 12.81 km - 6.02 p.m.

Sunday, October 11:

SS13 Cala Flumini 1 - 14.06 km - 9.15 a.m.
SS14 Sassari Argentiera 1 - 6.89 km - 10.08 a.m.
SS15 Cala Flumini 2 - 14.06 km - 12.10 p.m.
SS16 Sassari - Argentiera 2 (point stage) - 6.89 km - 1.18 p.m.

WRC drivers' rankings

1. Elfyn Evans - 97 points
2. Sebastien Ogier - 79 points
3. Ott Tänak - 70 points
4. Kalle Rovanperä - 70 points
5. Thierry Neuville - 65 points
6. Esapekka Lappi - 38 points
7. Teemu Suninen - 34 points
8. Craig Breen - 25 points
9. Sebastien Loeb - 24 points
10. Gus Greensmith - 16 points

WRC manufacturers' rankings

1. Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT - 174 points
2. Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT - 165 points
3. M-Sport Ford WRT - 101 points

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste, Andrew Whyte

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