World champion Sébastien Ogier has paid tribute to PZM 73rd Rally Poland runner-up Ott Tänak and believes the Estonian deserved to win last weekend's event.
DMACK team driver Tänak was the long time leader in Poland and was on course to collect a maiden WRC rally win until a penultimate stage puncture dropped him behind Ogier's Volkswagen team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen.
Ogier was one of the first to offer a distraught Tänak his consolations at the end of the Power Stage. After a few words of encouragement [below], he hoisted Tänak up onto his shoulder - a gesture that was applauded by the assembled WRC drivers.
"I think we all felt very sorry for him at that moment, so that's what I told him," Ogier told wrc.com. "He really deserved the victory. As always in Poland he was driving like crazy - really, really fast - and it was just bad luck. It's part of motorsport sometimes, but when you are reaching for your first victory it's very difficult to accept. But he scored good points too, and that's always important."
Ogier also praised Mikkelsen for being in the right place at the right time to take advantage: "It's not a stolen victory for him. Andreas drove very well all weekend and was very fast, so it's a nice victory."
Mikkelsen said he knew how exactly Tänak and co-driver Raigo Mõlder were feeling, because he had lost the lead of Rally Sweden last year with a spin five kilometres before the end of the final stage.
Volkswagen Motorsport boss Jost Capito said Mikkelsen deserved the victory, but he also paid tribute to Tänak’s performance: "The late set-back was obviously a great shame for Ott and Raigo. They would also have fully deserved to win. We have great respect for their effort – I am sure that their time will come in the World Rally Championship."
Tänak: "There will be a payback time"
Estonian vows to keep up the fight for a first rally win
Mikkelsen: ‘Poland was better than Spain'
Norwegian’s words of consolation for Tänak