Wilson's Tänak tribute
Malcolm Wilson admits it won't be easy to say goodbye to long time M-Sport driver Ott Tänak when the Estonian leaves for a seat at Toyota in 2018.
Toyota announced today that Tänak would drive a Yaris next year, and M-Sport were quick to pay tribute after a long but complicated association that stretches back to 2009 when Tänak was first signed as a development driver.
“It is with a heavy heart that the team say goodbye to Ott and Martin (co-driver Järveoja) who have been such an important part of our success this year," Wilson said.
"There’s arguably been no other driver who I have put as much faith in – or given as many chances – but I recognised his potential straight away.
“He has always been quick. From the moment he first came to my attention there was no doubting his speed, and in recent years he has developed into the full package – a rally winner and a potential championship contender.”
After showing promise in the WRC’s support series, Tänak was promoted to M-Sport's top line team in 2013, but was dropped at the end of the season due to poor results.
Following a year in the margins, Tänak made a WRC comeback in 2014, and was invited back into the M-Sport fold in 2015, only to be dropped again after a season that featured his car's infamous trip to the bottom of a lake in Mexico.
But Tänak's third M-Sport return in 2017 was a different story, and wins in Sardinia and Germany have positioned him as Sébastien Ogier's closest rival and marked him out as one of the sport's hottest rising stars.
He goes into next week’s penultimate round at Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (26 - 29 October) with an outside chance of the drivers’ title and a virtually guaranteed manufacturers’ crown with M-Sport.
“It’s time for Ott to experience pastures new and we wish both him and Martin the very best for the future. Until then, there remain two very important events and I know that Ott and Martin will be giving their all to end their time with the M-Sport family on a high,” Wilson added.
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