He is 30 points behind Toyota’s Sébastien Ogier following a no-score on last month’s opening FIA World Rally Championship round at Rallye Monte-Carlo.
Toyota is based in Finland and has been able to take advantage of wintry conditions to complete more testing than its rivals ahead of the Rovaniemi-based rally.
But he’s optimistic the work Hyundai carried out on its i20 World Rally Car last season will pay dividends when the series lands inside the Arctic Circle for the second round.
Video: Arctic Rally Finland
“It would be tough to challenge the Toyota [at Arctic Rally Finland],” said Tänak. “Finland is their home place, they are fast, number one, on these snowy places and second, on fast roads.
“But, we improved our car a lot on the fast roads and the aim is to challenge them there,” added the Estonian, who warmed up for the event with victory in similar snow and ice conditions on home territory in Saturday’s Otepää Talveralli.
While Monte-Carlo was a frustrating event for Tänak and the whole Hyundai Motorsport team, he shied away from drawing too many conclusions from the season opener.
“I would say the emotions were not really clear coming away from round one,” he added.
“We had a lot of minor issues during the event since the very beginning in Monte-Carlo so we really don’t know our performance compared with Toyota. For sure, they are strong, but I think we would have been strong also if things had run smoothly.
“It’s like it is. We still have a lot of work to do and my expectations for this year are definitely a lot higher than last year.
“Last year I wanted to give time for the team to get used to me and to develop and to improve, but this year is not the learning year. Now we really need to go for it or we’re going to lose the touch with Toyota.”
• Full coverage from Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.