Lifting the veil on Tänak’s rise

It’s 2am on 12 April 2019. Last night I attended the world premiere of Ott Tänak - The Movie and felt such a rollercoaster of emotions I’m finding it hard to sleep, writes Becs Williams.

The buzz around the event was incredible. A full-length movie about Ott Tänak, one of the most dynamic and exciting drivers in the WRC, but also one of the most guarded and private.

The film crew behind the project spent 2018 living life through Ott’s eyes. They followed him everywhere, covering every raw emotion, be it on a rally stage or at home with his family. They shot over 150 hours of footage which was condensed into just over two hours. However, the first edit was seven hours long!

The premiere in Tallinn was a red carpet affair with over 300 people packing the cinema to watch, including M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson, Ott’s mentor Markko Märtin and Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Kaj Lindström. At the same time, in 20 other cinemas around Estonia fans who bought tickets as early as January were about to get their first taste of their hero on the big screen.

Ott and co-driver Martin Järveoja drove their Yaris WRC through the centre of Tallinn to join us at the cinema, bringing the crucial film with them. Fans lined part of the route and gathered outside.

Ott Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja drove their Yaris WRC through the centre of Tallinn to the premiere

Finally it was time for the lights to dim and for the magic to start. What I witnessed encapsulated what rallying is to me. It showed the highs, the lows and everything in between. The reality we never get to see. The human story.

We see Ott and Martin in competition but we also get the full back story of where Ott has come from - the struggles he endured to reach the point he is at right now and what has made him into the competitor he is today.

One person who stole the show was Ott’s grandmother, who faithfully follows every event online, dedicated to her grandson’s progress. We see her in her sleepy Saaremaa home questioning the drivers’ tyre choice in Turkey. ‘Mikkelsen has taken softs, everyone else is on hards. Hmmm….’ she puzzles. Everyone adored her!

For me, it was the perfect time to make the film. The fight to be champion, the successes and the failures are all played out in their beautiful brutality. To those who say it should have been made after he becomes a champion, I say you’re wrong. This film shows the growth and determination of a man who is striving to BE a champion.

The film is on nationwide release in Estonia and the producers are working on a global distribution. If you love rallying, this film is for you. If you don’t love rallying, watch this and you will.

• Photos by Marek Metslaid and Martin Dremljuga

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