M-Sport's Ott Tanak has had to retire from Rally Italia Sardegna, while comfortably running in third position overall.

Tanak had completed SS16 more than a minute up on Mads Ostberg in fourth, and was seemingly set for his best result of the season - and only his second rostrum finish in the WRC, poised to equal what he managed in Sardinia back in 2012.

However, it wasn't to be, with transmission issues - a result of a hard landing over a crest - bringing him to a halt 12.3 km into SS17. He will now re-start on Sunday under Rally 2.

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"In the middle of the stage [SS17] after a jump we got caught between the gears and then got stuck in sixth gear. I couldn't down-shift and as there was still a long way to go, including a steep uphill, there really was no chance of making it through and we had to stop," Tanak explained back in service.

"Of course it's disappointing because we were on course for a strong result, but there are definitely a lot of positives to take away from this weekend. We were struggling with the rhythm yesterday but we managed to improve a lot which shows how much we have learnt. Also I made a couple of small mistakes this morning but generally we had really good pace and were able to keep up with the leaders.

"We can see what level we should be at soon, but there is still some work to do. We just have to keep fighting and push even harder in Poland. I'm actually feeling really good ahead of Poland and Finland.

"The roughest part of the season is almost over and the next events are more driver-friendly which I'm really looking forward to."

M-Sport boss, Malcolm Wilson added: "It goes without saying that the whole team are all immensely disappointed for Ott and Raigo [Molder, his co-driver]. This has been one of their best ever performances and the speed they were able to set without being 100 percent comfortable was highly impressive.

"It looks as though he was very unlucky - a heavy landing after a jump which damaged the transmission mechanisms. I know he will be disappointed, but he'll be back out tomorrow and should not dwell on the events of today."