WRC Rally Estonia: Tanak takes home win and leads Hyundai 1-2 – WRC

Ott Tanak took a relatively untroubled home victory on Rally Estonia to record his first World Rally Championship win for Hyundai since joining this season – ahead of team-mate Craig Breen.

Tanak and Breen merely had to minimise the risks in the six final stages as they held first and second respectively overnight, but there was one heart-stopping moment for Tanak when a rut almost sent him into a ditch.

Disaster was averted at the cost of only a couple of tenths of a second and Tanak kept his stranglehold even as the pursuing Toyotas were able to win every stage of the day.

Elfyn Evans took the first stage of the morning, Sebastien Ogier would claim two and Kalle Rovanpera ended up winning three, including the points-scoring Power Stage.

The only fly in Toyota’s ointment on the closing day was the loss of its fourth car, driven by Japanese ex-Formula 3 driver Takamoto Katsuta, who rolled out of sixth place.

Tommi Makinen’s squad showed that despite lacking Hyundai’s specialist knowledge of the Estonian roads, they could get themselves right back on the pace once they got the damper settings dialled in.

“We learned that we did our preparation test in too fast conditions,” Makinen admitted. “It was completely different conditions what we did our preparation beforehand and that’s the answer why our car was not absolutely perfect all over.”

No such reasoning was needed in the Hyundai camp, as both Tanak and Breen had a very simple job in the eyes of team principal Andrea Adamo: “Let me say I warmly suggested them to finish first and second,” the Italian said.

Erstwhile championship leader, and the biggest loser from the WRC’s Estonian adventure, was Thierry Neuville in the third Hyundai. The Belgian crashed out on Saturday and restarted hoping just to save his tyres for an all-out assault for Power Stage points.

As he attempted to launch into the stage, however, something was clearly amiss with the car’s electronics and the i20 limped through to the finish. His hopes of leading Hyundai’s charge in the three remaining rallies of 2020 would appear to be bleak.

Hyundai also lost its fourth car, a 2019-spec i20 WRC entered for its reigning WRC2 champion Pierre-Louis Loubet, when his steering gave out on the second stage of the day, ending a run where the asphalt specialist improved in pace and confidence on the loose Estonian surface.

M-Sport was the benefactor and gained valuable points in a rally where its two rapid Finnish drivers were driven to distraction by their pace compared with the Toyotas and Hyundais. Nevertheless, Teemu Suninen and Esapekka Lappi finished in sixth and seventh respectively, with Gus Greensmith coming home eighth, which gave the Cumbrian squad a much-needed haul of points to take home.

In WRC2 the Citroen of Mads Ostberg was never really challenged and was followed onto the podium by M-Sport’s French hopeful Adrien Fourmaux. Hyundai’s Nikolai Gryazin had been set to take the runner-up spot until he suffered a puncture on the final stage, allowing Fourmaux through and handing third place to Swedish privateer Pontus Tidemand.

Finishing in front of all the WRC2 runners however, in ninth overall was Oliver Solberg, claiming his first WRC3 victory in emphatic style.

But for reigning champion Tanak he sent out a wanring warning shot to his rivals after finishing the final stage.

“We have been working so, so hard – I mean the team has been working so, so hard, I’ve just been at home sitting on the sofa! But still great job guys, we keep pushing and I’m sure we can do it!” he said.

“It’s great of course, we, you know, we have some previous know-how and if you race home even if you don’t know some roads still you feel the support which you get from the people around so it’s amazing. It’s great feeling and first Rally Estonia (in the WRC) and the win is mine so happy for sure.”

Rally Estonia result after SS17

Pos Class Driver Car Gap
1 RC1 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Hyundai 1h59m53.6s
2 RC1 Craig Breen, P.Nagle Hyundai 22.2s
3 RC1 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia Toyota 26.9s
4 RC1 Elfyn Evans, S.Martin Toyota 41.9s
5 RC1 Kalle Rovanpera, J.Halttunen Toyota 1m18.7s
6 RC1 Teemu Suninen, J.Lehtinen Ford 2m39.6s
7 RC1 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Ford 2m52.0s
8 RC1 Gus Greensmith, E.Edmondson Ford 4m53.8s
9 RC2 Oliver Solberg, A.Johnston Volkswagen 7m38.6s
10 RC2 Mads Ostberg, T.Eriksen Citroen 8m17.3s
11 RC2 Jari Huttunen, M.Lukka Hyundai 8m37.6s
12 RC2 Egon Kaur, S.Simm Skoda 9m26.4s
13 RC2 Adrien Fourmaux, R.Jamoul Ford 9m45.7s
14 RC2 Pontus Tidemand, P.Barth Skoda 11m07.4s
15 RC2 Eyvind Brynildsen, I.Minor Skoda 11m09.5s
16 RC2 Karl Kruuda, D.Moscatt Volkswagen 11m43.5s
17 RC2 Nicolas Ciamin, Y.Roche Citroen 11m51.3s
18 RC2 Nikolay Gryazin, K.Aleksandrov Hyundai 12m09.9s
19 RC2 Marco Bulacia Wilkinson, M.Der Ohannesian Citroen 12m15.2s
20 RC2 Rainer Aus, S.Koskinen Skoda 12m23.1s
21 RC2 Sean Johnston, A.Kihurani Citroen 12m31.2s
22 RC2 Yohan Rossel, B.Fulcrand Citroen 12m42.6s
23 RC2 Priit Koik, A-Uku Heldna Ford 14m03.3s
24 RC2 Gregoire Munster, L.Louka Hyundai 14m22.3s
25 RC1 Kimmo Kurkela, R.Hamalainen Ford 15m42.1s
26 RC2 Jan Solans, M.Barreiro Ford 16m09.5s
27 RC2 Jaroslaw Koltun, I.Pleskot Ford 21m12.1s
28 RC4 Martins Sesks, R.Francis Ford 21m26.9s
29 RC4 Robert Virves, S.Pruul Ford 22m04.7s
30 RC2 Alexander Rzhevkin, Y.Fedorov Skoda 29m31.8s
31 RC1 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai 45m08.7s

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