The Korean manufacturer’s i20 World Rally Car previously struggled to match the Yaris of principal rival Toyota Gazoo Racing on fast gravel, but that changed on the Estonian’s home event as Hyundai claimed a 1-2 finish.
After going into the WRC’s enforced lockdown on the back foot after a disappointing display in Mexico in March, Hyundai came back with all guns blazing to leave Tänak impressed and relieved.
“The time we had after Mexico, we definitely tried to use every day of it, every minute of it to make the best out of it so that when we come back, we are better than we were before,” he explained.
Video: Rally Estonia review
“This high-profile event proved that if we were missing something before, here definitely we were up there and performing. I was really happy this weekend, the car was doing what I wanted and the step forward has been impressive in the meantime.”
Victory enabled Tänak to reduce the gap to championship leader Sébastien Ogier to 13 points and an enticing title fight is boiling up with three rounds remaining.
“The pressure was definitely there. We knew that we have to take the points from this event and we have to win. Obviously we were in Estonia and I should have some kind of an advantage here. Another thing is that we had never won with the Hyundai before,” he said.
“This was also the place where it should have happened. Then we played out nicely, but still, to make it through without issues but at the same time try to be the fastest, it was quite a big job to put this together.”
Tänak had a scare after sliding into a bank in the penultimate speed test. The damage proved cosmetic only, but he admitted he had been aware of and reacted to a mistake at the same point by M-Sport Ford driver Esapekka Lappi.
“Actually, I knew, yes, and then I went slower in that place and still the road put me a bit to the edge of the road,” he added. “Let’s say during these two days, I definitely had more impressive surprises or moments than this one.”