Thu 20 Jul 2023

Tänak’s home hopes thrown into disarray

Ott Tänak will start Rally Estonia with a five-minute time penalty after a technical issue during shakedown has forced his M-Sport Ford team to carry out an engine change on the Estonian’s Puma.

Tänak currently sits fourth in the FIA World Rally Championship standings and had targeted his home round this week - a rally he has triumphed in four times - as the perfect opportunity to return to winning ways.

The 35-year-old posted the benchmark time on the opening pass of Thursday morning’s shakedown stage but his car suffered engine troubles at the end of the run. Upon further investigation back in service, M-Sport Ford has confirmed that a replacement engine will need to be fitted before the event starts later today (Thursday).

FIA regulations state that, in the case of engine failure between scrutineering and the first time control, it is permitted to replace the engine. However, a five-minute penalty will be applied by the Clerk of the Course.

"We have no option but to change the engine, which we can do by regulation, but it will mean that we get a penalty before we start the rally," explained team principal Richard Millener. "It's a really frustrating start to the rally, possibly the worst start we could have had, but that's the situation we find ourselves in.

"It's going to put us at a serious disadvantage from the word go, really, but we've got to switch focus now. There's nothing we can change about what's happened so the focus now will be to try to salvage as much as possible from the event.

"Obviously the biggest disappointment is for Ott and Martin," Millener added. "We fully appreciate the country we're in, their home rally, and the expectation and support from the home fans."

Avoiding the drama was Kalle Rovanperä, who showed he has no intentions of relinquishing his Rally Estonia crown by winning the 4.08km warm-up test. The reigning champion begins this eighth with a target on his back. Not only does he lead the series by 41 points, but he has also won the past two editions of Rally Estonia.

Driving a Toyota GR Yaris, Rovanperä edged Hyundai i20 N rival by Thierry Neuville by 1.2sec while Esapekka Lappi, also driving a Hyundai, was third.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM