June 11 (Reuters) - Estonia’s Ott Tanak won the Rally of Italy on Sunday in the first World Rally Championship success of his career after 73 starts.
The M-Sport Ford driver finished 12.3 seconds ahead of Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala in a Toyota with Belgian Thierry Neuville third for Hyundai.
Tanak’s team mate and championship leader Sebastien Ogier was fifth.
Four-times world champion Ogier, who picked up additional points from the final Power Stage of the Sardinia-based rally, saw his overall lead trimmed. The Frenchman has 141 points to Neuville’s 123 with Tanak third on 108.
Tanak inherited the lead in Sardinia, the seventh round of the season, after New Zealander Hayden Padden crashed his Hyundai on Saturday.
“It was a difficult weekend but the first half of this season has been great,” Tanak told the wrc.com website. “The new car and a strong team mate is making me push hard. I hope it’s the first of many wins because it’s all coming together now.”
He was the first Estonian winner in the championship since Markko Martin in 2004. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Clare Fallon)