Wed 13 Jul 2022

Estonian flags celebrate Tänak’s homecoming

For two of the next three FIA World Rally Championship rounds, Hyundai Motorsport will enjoy a home advantage – but it’s at this week’s Rally Estonia (14 - 17 July) that the flags will likely fly highest.

Ott Tänak’s popularity both domestically and across the world has been one of the most engaging stories of the WRC in recent seasons. The blue, black and white tricolour is a familiar sight being waved stageside across the globe.

The 2019 world champion still lives in Estonia – a fact in which he is rejoicing this week as he makes the commute to the rally base of Tartu without the use of an airport – and should be bracing himself for the sort of support reserved for Estonians such as...

Actually, it’s hard to imagine a countryman or woman receiving the same sort of recognition he will witness in the coming days.

“It’s nice,” said Tänak, “it’s nice to see the flags – we didn’t see so many of these in the last few years because of the pandemic. It will be good to have the fans back, definitely they are making a difference.”

And we can expect the fans to be back in bigger numbers than ever. For the first time, Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja will drive their home round in an era largely free from Covid restrictions.

This is the third year of what’s rapidly become one of the season’s highlights and we can expect a bigger and better show than ever.

And, don’t forget, this is round one of a double-header scrap sitting north and south of the Gulf of Finland. This week it’s Estonia, but in just a couple of weeks the WRC heads north to Jyväskylä for Secto Rally Finland (4 - 7 August).

The Estonia-Finland rivalry has run for two decades, ever since Markko Märtin had the temerity to interrupt Marcus Grönholm’s winning run in Finland in 2003.

Finns Kalle Rovanperä and Teemu Suninen both live in Estonia, adding further intrigue to what’s also set to be a fascinating rounds seven and eight.

But it’s Tänak who would dearly love a repeat of his 2020 home success. Hyundai is hoping to emerge from a tricky start to the season, with Ott’s Rally Italia Sardegna success last month helping in that process.

Opportunity awaits in Tartu this week, just as it does two rounds down the road when it’s Tänak’s team-mate Thierry Neuville who takes Hyundai to his own Belgian backyard for Ypres Rally Belgium (18 - 21 August).

• Full coverage from Rally Estonia will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park

Video: Rally Estonia route
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