Tanak nets Argentina win
A DOMINANT Ott Tanak scored his third WRC victory and his first for Toyota Gazoo Racing at YPF Rally Argentina.
After dictating the opening two legs, Tanak eased through the classic El Condor and Giulio Cesare stages in the rock-strewn Traslasierra mountains to win the fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship by 37.7 seconds.
The Estonian had looked down and out on Friday morning after hitting a rock, spinning his Yaris World Rally Car and damaging its steering.
But he won 10 of the next 12 tests to build a comfortable lead, leaving his demoralised rivals fighting over the remaining podium places.
It was his first win since August last year in Germany and Toyota's first success since last July in Finland.
"It's a special one. We never knew what was going to happen with the team change but it's nice to see how quickly we're improving,” said Tanak, who joined the Japanese manufacturer's Finnish-based team at the start of the year.
"The car is near enough to my liking and it's a massive boost for a driver if you have the confidence.”
A second place finish for Thierry Neuville enhanced his title hopes. He narrowed the gap to championship leader Sebastien Ogier to 10, helped by a maximum five bonus for winning the final Power Stage in his Hyundai i20.
Teammate Dani Sordo finished a further 38 seconds behind in third to maintain his recent good form, which has delivered two podiums from the last three events.
Defending world champion Ogier, driving an M-Sport Ford Fiesta, lacked the pace to improve on his record of three wins from the opening four rounds of the season.
The Frenchman held off a determined final day charge from Andreas Mikkelsen to claim fourth.
Norwegian Mikkelsen felt more comfortable with the handling of his i20 and fell four seconds short of overhauling Ogier. Elfyn Evans completed the top six in another Fiesta, despite rarely finding the pace that brought him within 0.7 of a second of a maiden WRC victory 12 months ago.
WRC DRIVERS' CHAMPIONSHIP
100 Sebastien Ogier
90 Thierry Neuville
72 Ott Tanak
54 Andreas Mikkelsen
45 Dani Sordo
43 Kris Meeke
40 Esapekka Lappi