Ott Tänak picked up five points at an otherwise disappointing Rally Turkey over the weekend. The Estonian tops the table still, but reigning champion Sébastien Ogier (Citroën) more than halved the difference at the top, as he leapfrogged Belgian Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) to second place.
It was never really Tänak's weekend, at the circuit in Marmaris where he won last year. At the warmup "shakedown" stage on Thursday, Tänak finished fourth, but in the Super Special stage which followed, Tänak, 31, from Saaremaa, and co-driver Martin Järveoja, from Elva, only managed seventh place in the Toyota Yaris.
Friday's stages saw Tänak start first as championship leader, and a puncture on the gravel tracks slowed progress in a challenging, rocky circuit, with Ogier and Neuville closing the gap. Tänak lay in eighth place going into Saturday, after surprise leader on Friday, Esapekka Lappi (Finland, Citroën), made best progress.
Saturday was a disaster for the Estonian, as an electrical failure en route to the start line of the second stage on Saturday meant that under the regulations, he had to miss the rest of the day.
It was Citroën one-two on Sunday, as Ogier reignited his championship drive (only he and Neuville have a mathematical chance of snatching the title from Tänak) after publicly stating he was going for the win, with Lappi in second place.
Ogier picked up a near-maximum 25+3 points over the weekend, but Tänak managed a consolation five points bonus on Sunday, ERR's sports portal reports, the maximum possible at the Wolf Power Stage to bring his title total to 210 points to Ogier's 193 (see video below, commentary in Estonian).
Neuville picked up a total of eight points over the weekend, putting him in third place on 180. Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway, Hyundai) took 15 points, putting him ahead of Kris Meeke (Northern Ireland), Tänak's teammate, who is now in fifth. Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland), another Toyota driver, is in sixth place.
Three races remain in the series, Wales Rally GB is on Oct. 3-6, followed by Rally Spain near the end of that month, and Rally Australia wrapping up the season in November. As noted, only Ogier, who has won the title six seasons on the trot, and Thierry Neuville, who has finished second in four of the same seasons, can catch the Estonian.
Martin Järveoja tops the co-drivers' table; Toyota Gazoo Racing is in second place among manufacturers, on 295 points, with Hyundai leading on 314. The other two teams, Citroen Total WRT, and M-Sport Ford World Rally Team, are in third and fourth place, on 259 and 184 points respectively.
Editor: Andrew Whyte