Tue 14 Feb 2023

Tänak never expected to win in Sweden

Ott Tänak surprised himself and his M-Sport Ford team with his victory at last week’s Rally Sweden.

The Estonian approached his second event aboard one M-Sport’s Ford Puma Rally1s with low expectations but delivered a remarkable performance to take victory by 18.7sec from Hyundai’s Craig Breen.

Tänak was fastest on just one of the event’s 18 snow and ice speed tests, but he produced top-three times on 12 of them. It was that consistency which ultimately paid off for him and co-driver Martin Järveoja.

"It was a good win, a bit of an emotional one. There was a bit of tension as well over the weekend," Tänak revealed after his victory.

“We came to the rally actually without, I wouldn’t say, expecting too much, but actually we were not expecting anything. We didn’t know what to expect. We just came here and just had to see what we could do."

The first day of the rally went relatively well for Tänak, and he even led before the mid-leg service halt. But it was Saturday when he began to hit his stride, reclaiming the lead from Breen with a big push under darkness.

"It definitely took a bit of time in the beginning to get myself adapted to the car, and it was a bit challenging. But I would say already by Saturday I understood what I needed to do to do some good times," he said.

"Let’s say we were never really winning stages, but we were always there and it seemed like our strength this weekend was we were keeping our average pace high and every stage we were able to be close to whoever was winning the stage.”

Tänak's victory elevated him into the championship lead, which means he’ll have the unfavourable task of opening the road next time out at Guanajuato Rally México (16 - 19 March).  

"Mexico is always a challenge,” he added, “but we shouldn’t think about this today. We will stress about this in the next couple of weeks!”

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