Ott Tänak believes his maiden WRC victory in Italy on Sunday has removed the pressure heading into the second half of the season in Poland later this month.
The Estonian scored a popular win at Rally Italia Sardegna to climb to third in the FIA World Rally Championship. He now heads to Orlen 74th Rally Poland (29 June - 2 July), where he suffered a heartbreaking puncture in the penultimate speed test in 2016 when leading.
“We’ve been close many times so I was sure the win would happen some day, but it was very important to do it here in Sardinia,” said the M-Sport World Rally Team driver.
“I knew in Poland there would have been big pressure, so I was really trying already in Portugal to get the win. After this it gets easier to go there.”
Three times Tänak has come close to breaking his win duck. He eventually finished second in Poland last year and repeated that in Britain, and again in Sweden this year. So many near misses made it easier to cope with the expectation in Italy yesterday.
“Many times it has been close. Maybe because of this it was not so difficult to handle it. I had quite a bit of pressure before the last stage because I knew there was no road any more. It was destroyed, so it was quite difficult but I managed to do the job,” he added.
Tänak said winning in the most open WRC season for many years was special.
“The championship is really tight at the moment. For me the sport is really on a high so I’m happy to win the rally in this situation, where the gaps are small and many people are fighting,” he said.