Thu 27 Oct 2022

Where next for Tänak?

Three years ago Ott Tänak was still celebrating his first World Rally Championship title. Such was the Estonian’s dominance of the 2019 season, the expectation was that the number ones won with Toyota would be staying on the doors of his Hyundai for a few years to come.

If that was the script, somebody forgot to read it. Three years aboard an i20 has brought rally wins, but in all honesty, Tänak’s rarely looked capable of taking the title again.

Something just hasn’t gelled. And a month from now he’ll be done with the Korean team for good.

What then for him and co-driver Martin Järveoja?

The obvious one would be the sabbatical. Tänak talked about the personal aspect of his decision to depart Hyundai ahead of his contracted time and a year at home in Estonia with his family is an option. 

It’s worked for drivers in the past – whether that year out has been their decision or not. Tának’s still at or very close to the top of his game, he’s one of the fastest in the world and finding a seat this time next year wouldn’t be a problem for him.

But does he want a season on the sidelines or does he have a plan already?

Predictably, there are no shortage of theories on this. There’s the thinking that Toyota’s driver line-up could include a sensational return for the first man to win a world title in a Yaris. 

There’s more weight behind the potential for M-Sport Ford, but funding a Puma Rally1 Hybrid seat could be an issue – with Craig Breen already contracted for another season.

It would be a fair assessment that Tänak’s emotional ties are stronger to M-Sport than to Toyota. His relationship with Malcolm Wilson was tested severely in the early days, but by the time he departed at the end of 2017, he was a firm favourite at Dovenby Hall.

Tänak’s surprise move on Sunday night in Spain has sure thrown the driver market open and given the service park plenty to talk about.

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