ALGHERO: Spain's Dani Sordo won the Rally of Sardinia for the second straight year on Sunday (Oct 11) holding off fellow Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville of Belgium.
After a three-day battle along the sandy and gravel roads of the Mediterranean island, Sordo pipped Neuville by just 5.1sec with France's former six-time world champion Sebastien Ogier just one second further behind for Toyota.
Ogier's Welsh teammate Elfyn Evans finished fourth over a minute behind the winner to hold the world championship lead after six of eight rounds.
"I was on the limit, I pushed very hard," said Ogier, who battled for second place with Neuville, with six stage wins including two, SS13 and SS14, on Sunday.
"We tried, so we have no regret. It was intense the whole weekend, we gave everything. There was not much more I could have done."
Neuville lead the way in SS14.
"It was a fantastic battle with Seb and I really enjoyed it," said the Belgian.
"Bravo to Dani and Carlo for this great victory."
Four drivers are still in the running for the world title with two races remaining in Belgium and Italy.
Evans has a 14-point lead on Ogier and 24 on Neuville, who moves up from fifth to third with defending world champion Ott Tanak fourth overall.
Estonian Tanak struggled to sixth in the race after suspension problems with his Hyundai on Friday, but finished in style on Sunday with a win in SS16.
Sordo was competing for the first time since March's Rally of Mexico, when he retired with engine problems.
The 37-year-old took advantage of his position starting behind the favourites to open up a lead on Friday which he held throughout the weekend.
It was just the third WRC win for Sordo in 169 rallies since 2003.
Longtime in the shadow of former Citroen teammate Sebastien Loeb, the Spaniard finished third in the 2008 and 2009 world championships behind the nine-time world champion.
A former world junior champion in 2005, Sordo had to wait until 2013 to win his first rally in Germany, returning to Citroen after a stint with Mini, after Loeb's departure.
There are two races left this season in Belgium, around Ypres in November, followed by the Rally of Monza near Milan in early December, with the season shortened because of the coronavirus pandemic.