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Tanak flies into commanding lead in Rally of Italy

ROME, Italy, Jun 4 – Ott Tanak flew past the competition on Saturday’s second day of the Rally of Italy to take a commanding lead into the final day in Sardinia.

The 2019 world champion, driving a Hyundai, won six of the day’s seven stages to take a 46-second lead over Irishman Craig Breen in a Ford.

Over a minute behind Tanak in third is Spaniard Dani Sordo, in another Hyundai, looking for a third victory in Sardinia after victories in 2019 and 2020.

The eighth and last special of the day (SS17) ended in confusion when it was interrupted after Frenchman Adrien Fourmaux’s car had an accident and blocked the road for several minutes before being removed.

That led to some drivers taking the stage normally and others, including Tanak, driving at a slower pace after an official waved a red flag.

“It’s a good day, we didn’t need to force it,” said the Estonian who is looking to add to his previous win in Sardinia in 2017.

Tanak had his share of luck on Friday when the last two stages were cancelled while he had a transmission problem and he had more good fortune on Saturday, albeit at the expense of overnight leader Esapekka Lappi.

The Finn, on a part-time deal as he replaces defending champion Sebastien Ogier at the wheel of a Toyota at certain races, abandoned the rally after hitting rocks on the edge of the road on the first morning stage.

World champion Kalle Rovanpera focussed on avoiding mistakes and admitted that he had been “fighting” with his Toyota on a slippery surface.

Even if he cannot break into the top four, Rovanpera, who has won the last three rounds in Sweden, Croatia and Portugal can still extend his lead in the WRC standings as his closest challenger Thierry Neuville flipped his Hyundai on the twelfth stage.

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