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Tanak defies steering issue to take world rally lead as Sordo wins in Sardinia

Dani Sordo claimed his second career victory at the Rally of Italy (AFP Photo/Andreas SOLARO)

Argentiera (Italy) (AFP) - Dani Sordo snatched a dramatic victory at the Rally of Italy on Sunday as Ott Tanak took the overall championship lead despite a steering problem ending his chances of a third straight win.

Toyota driver Tanak looked set for victory in Sardinia as the rally headed into its fourth and last day but the mechanical issue on the final speed test stage meant that he only finished fifth in the final rally before the summer break.

"It's not something that we have seen before. All we know is that the components that came to this rally were all from the same group and all sealed together," Toyota's chief engineer Tom Fowler told Autosport.com.

"So we've had something happen in that batch that doesn't seem to be correct."

However Tanak's fifth place was still enough for the Estonian to nip four points above six-time defending world champion Sebastien Ogier, who picked up four bonus points in the rally's power stage but crashed out of contention on Friday, due to the two-point gap between the pair at the start of the rally.

Sordo in a Hyundai conquered just the second rally of his career and first since 2013 after finishing 13.7 seconds ahead of Finnish driver Teemu Suninen and 32.6sec ahead of teammate Andreas Mikkelsen.

Tanak ended up over 1min 30sec back, and will be ruing a steering issue that has cut what could have been a much stronger lead at the top of the championship.

The 31-year-old had led by 25.9sec going into Sunday and was heavy favourite to win the rally and open up a decent gap on Ogier with the 25 points earned for first place.

The drivers return at the start of August for the Rally of Finland.