Tänak: ‘I had more speed’

Ott Tänak says he won Rally Sweden without needing to drive flat ou

Sunday’s commanding 53.7sec victory, which carried him to the top of the FIA World Rally Championship standings for the first time, sent a clear message to his rivals about the pace of his Toyota Yaris and enhanced his position as title favourite in many people’s eyes.

The Estonian led initially before road conditions turned against him and he fell back. But having regained the initiative on Saturday morning, Tänak eased through the rest of the rally without being challenged as his rivals dropped time with errors.

The icing on the cake came with full bonus points from the rally-closing Wolf Power Stage at Torsby, which earned him a maximum 30 points from the championship’s second round.

“I don’t think we pushed to the maximum, maybe the most on the limit in the Power Stage. There we tried to drive well but we were, more or less, on the limit. Normally you have to fight for the last tenth of seconds, but we were in the best situation,” Tänak said.
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“Since Saturday morning, we tried to do our best and take the win with minimum risk. We had a good flow in the car. It was working from there. Maybe in some places, it was even a bit boring because we didn’t have to fight.”

His win, allied with sixth place for Kris Meeke, lifted Toyota Gazoo Racing into a one-point lead in the manufacturers’ standings. Team boss Tommi Mäkinen compared Tänak’s mindset with his own when he won four straight drivers’ titles from 1996 to 1999.

“Ott has dominated the whole weekend, showing everyone how to drive in the difficult conditions. He is really strong at the moment. When I look at him right now, I see myself over 20 years ago when I was focusing on winning the title,” he said.

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