Wed 30 Aug 2023

What's next for Tänak?

Sitting in front of his fire on an unusually mild Estonian summer Saturday, Ott Tänak reached for his telephone and talked of the need for a reset.

Sitting in front of his fire on an unusually mild Estonian summer Saturday, Ott Tänak reached for his telephone and talked of the need for a reset.


Heading into the summer’s fastest rallies in Estonia and Finland, the 2019 world champion was just one point off second place in the championship race. Given his wins in both Tartu and Jyväskylä, 60 points weren’t out of the question. Instead, he walked away with six. And slipped to fourth in the title race, 66 points behind Kalle Rovanperä.


What’s possible for a reset, rested and ready Tänak? Four wins? Why not.


While his M-Sport team has enjoyed some downtime, the British squad has worked hard on the pace and durability of the Puma Rally1 Hybrid. There’s nothing to say this partnership doesn’t click across the season’s second half.


Sadly for both, the use of the term ‘second half’ can be quite disingenuous, given that there are only four rallies remaining – compared with the nine that have already run.

One thing is sure, both parties have learned plenty about each other in the Estonian’s first return to M-Sport since he departed for Toyota at the end of 2017.


Speaking sensibly, a title shot looks entirely unlikely between here and Rally Japan, but what Ott and co-driver Martin Järveoja can do for the remainder of 2023 is demonstrate they’ve lost none of the opposition-crushing speed they showed through 2019.


They’ve finished second on the Acropolis, but won Turkey in similar conditions. Central European Rally? They’ve won back-to-back events around the corner in Germany; they’ve won Chile and finished Japan second at the end of last season.


Form-wise, they’re in great shape for the next four rallies and three months.


Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 8:30:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 9:30:00 AM