Nobody wanted last year’s Rally Italia Sardegna to end the way it did for Ott Tänak. A heart-breaking power steering problem cost Toyota’s Estonian a near-certain win. But, if that win was going anywhere, it would be most welcome in Dani Sordo’s corner of the service park.
The Spaniard remains one of the sport’s most popular figures and to score a second career win, and his first on gravel, on this day 12 months ago was a special moment for him, co-driver Carlos del Barrio (who registered his first WRC success) and Hyundai Motorsport.
In fact, it was special for everybody. With the possible exception of Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja.
The four-time world champion made 44 starts between winning for Toyota in Portugal in 1994 and Subaru in Argentina in 1999. For Dani, there were 56 rallies between his glorious Rallye Deutschland duck-breaker with Citroën in 2013 and this time last year.
In terms of elapsed time, Sordo also set a new benchmark in the current generation. Five years and 296 days separated his presence on the podium’s top step. Not that he’s in bad company. Hyundai team-mate Sébastien Loeb is just 118 days short between Argentina 2013 and Salou two years ago.
Those were the records and the numbers. The reality was of a very, very happy Sordo when he leapt from the quayside into Alghero harbour.
And don’t think the then 36-year-old was gifted the win. Yes, Tänak’s final stage misfortune cleared the path to victory, but Sordo had been in the thick of the battle since taking the lead on the first stage of Friday afternoon.
Passed by Tänak in Monte Lerno on Saturday morning, Sordo’s focus gradually shifted to protecting second place from Finn Teemu Suninen rather than pushing the Yaris man ahead.
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