Tanak wins Rally GB to boost world title bid

London (AFP) –


Ott Tanak won the Wales Rally GB on Sunday to move a step closer to his first World Rally Championship title.

Tanak, 31, has won five of the last seven rounds and he completed his latest success in Wales with maximum bonus points from the final Wolf Power Stage.

The Estonian will secure the title if he wins the penultimate round in Spain later this month.

Tanak's 10.9-second success was far from easy as he fended off title rivals Thierry Neuville and Sebastien Ogier in treacherous conditions.

They kept the pressure on Tanak after he claimed the lead from team-mate Kris Meeke late on Friday, but he held his nerve to secure a crucial success.

"It was a long weekend with long days and short nights and a lot of pressure. I guess the gap was never bigger than 10 seconds and every stage I was on the limit," Tanak said.

"It was a hard one but it feels good at the moment. We still have two more rallies to go and we have seen plenty of drama in the past, so we need to keep focused."

Neuville, without a win since April, emerged as the closest challenger in his Hyundai i20.

But in a rally where the time gaps were small despite the tricky conditions, the Belgian could not make inroads in Sunday's closing speed tests near the race base in Llandudno.

Ogier completed the podium in a Citroen C3, a further 12.9 seconds back.

The Frenchman's hopes of a seventh straight title are dwindling as he trails Tanak by 28 points with a maximum 60 available, while Neuville is 41 points off the lead.

Final standings:

1. Ott Tanak-Martin Jarveoja (EST/Toyota Yaris) 3hr 58mins, 2. Thierry Neuville-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL/Hyundai i20) at 10.9s, 3. Sebastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia (FRA/Citroen C3) at 23.8s, 4. Kris Meeke-Sebastian Marshall (GBR/Toyota Yaris) at 35.6s, 5. Elfyn Evans-Scott Martin(GBR/M-Ford Fiesta) at 48.6s, 6. Andreas Mikkelsen-Anders Jaeger (NOR/Hyundai i20) at 58.2s, 7. Pontus Tidemand-Ola Floene (SWE/M-Sport Ford) at 5m 23.8s, 8. Craig Breen-Paul Nagle (IRL/Hyundai i20) at 9m 25.0s, 9. Kalle Rovanpera-Jonne Halttunen (FIN/Skoda Motorsport) at 10m 51.1s, 10. Petter Solberg-Phil Mills (NOR/Petter Solberg) at 11m 36.1s