Tag: Ott Tanak

How Ott Tanak defied all odds to snatch his first ever WRC title?

At the start of the 2019 WRC (World Rally Championship) season, nobody would have ever predicted that Ott Tanak would be the WRC Champion against the likes of top rally guys like multiple champion and very competent contenders; names like Sebastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Thierry Neuville.

In the second to last rally event of the year, the Rally Spain was the scene for the battle royale between Neuville and Tanak for the Drivers’ crown. Tanak has been consistent all season long, while Neuville, though pulled off several amazing performances, isn’t as persistent as his Estonian rival. Going into the penultimate round, Tanak had a 28-point lead over perennial WRC champion Ogier and a further 13 points laid JM Latvala. These men were the ones with a shot at the title. Ogier knows how to win as he has done it six times, but does the odds favor him this time around?

The other title, the manufacturer, is to be decided at the Rally Spain between Toyota and. Hyundai, who are just 8 points apart.

The stage was set for the Rally Spain last weekend and it began with 9-time champion Sebastien Loeb burning the tracks to lead all drivers. Loeb showed everybody who’s boss but it wouldn’t be his day, eventually. Loeb, representing Hyundai WRT, led Neuville and Dani Sordo to a 1-2-3 finish in the first leg. Tanak struggled to a fifth place finish behind Citroen’s Kris Meeke. Meantime, Ogier’s race was ruined by a leakage which caused a power steering failure. The 6-time WRC champion  had to send in the car for repairs, which put him 17th by the end of the first leg.  Heading into the second leg, the top five were Loeb, Neuville, Sordo, Meeke and Tanak.

Leg 2 saw plenty of action as Loeb faded into background. That gave Neuville an opportunity to jump into the lead early and the Belgian kept it until the end of the leg. He led home his team mate but Tanak made progress as well, going from fifth to third by the end of day two. Loeb ended his day two run in fourth, ahead of Latvala. Day three was about to unfold with either Tanak taking his first ever title or the title fight moving up to the finale in Australia.

Tanak commented after the second leg, “I wasn’t feeling too relaxed but now I’ve been able to learn a bit and get into a rhythm. We would like to keep the pressure, but to take the time back will be difficult.”

All eyes were set for day three where the battle royale would take place. Tanak needed a second place to seal his maiden title, would he get it? The Hyundai drivers won’t just hand him the title. Neuville was rather unstoppable since day two as he continued to pound the tarmac to increase his lead. The order maintained going into the bonus run or Power Stage.

The power stage was the key moment for Tanak as he swept past Sordo to go 2nd overall. He would finish 17.2 seconds behind Neuville which was enough to put his hands on the crown. Sordo was third, followed by Loeb and Latvala.

In post-rally a jubilant Tanak said, “It’s difficult to say the pressure I felt this weekend – it was next level. To manage all this and get through it has been the target of my life. When you are on the verge of this you cannot imagine it, I just had to make it happen.”

Tanak’s win ended the 15-year  Frenchmen’s domination of the WRC by Loeb and Ogier. He becomes the first Toyota driver to win a title since Didier Auriol in 1994, as well as the first Estonian with a World Rally crown.

Neuville’s third victory of the season came down to only the manufacturers’ title to play for, as Hyundai grabbed an 18-point lead from Toyota, going into the season finale at the Rally Australia 14 – 17 November.

2019 WRC Rally Spain results

1. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 3hr 07min 39.6sec
2. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris +17.2sec
3. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +17.6sec
4. S Loeb / D Elena FRA Hyundai i20 +53.9sec
5. J-M Latvala / M Anttila FIN Toyota Yaris +1min 00.2sec

Drivers standings

1. O Tänak 263pts (new champion)
2. T Neuville 227
3. S Ogier 217

Tanak scores win No.2 at WRC Rally Chile

The WRC (World Rally Championship) debut in Chile was a resounding success for title hopeful Ott Tanak, who won the inaugural Chilean rally ahead of Thierry Neuville and Sebastien Ogier. Tanak practically led from start to finish and beat Ogier by just 23 seconds at the finish. Third place went to 9-time WRC Champion Sebastien Loeb, who drove a Hyundai i20 WRC.

In his trusty Toyota Yaris WRC, Tanak got in front from the second of 16 stages on the first day itself. Despite a relatively unknown course in Chile, the Yaris WRC driver was fast and accurate to maintain the lead all the way to the finish. It was his second win of the season which propelled him to second in the standings. Ogier, who finished second now tops the standings with Neuville demoted to third, after a disastrous rally of Chile outing. Neuville crashed out on leg 2, crushing his hopes to maintain his standings lead. 

Tanak took control of the rally from stage two, after he overshot in the first stage; his only error. He then controlled the pace and quickly got to grips with the tricky conditions and new pace notes required for Chile’s WRC debut. A final charge ensured maximum bonus points from the rally-closing Wolf Power Stage.  “It was a very difficult and demanding weekend and I needed a lot of focus and energy to be perfect. We weren’t on the limit all the time. We’ve had two setbacks in a row before this where we lost the rally lead, but we proved we’re back in the fight,” the Estonian said.

Ogier locked horns with countryman Loeb in a furious fight for second. Driving a Hyundai i20 for the first time on gravel, Loeb closed to within 1.1sec of Ogier at the start of the final leg before the Citroen C3 driver battled back to finish 7.1sec clear. The Frenchman’s Power Stage drive was handicapped when a fire extinguisher went off, leaving Ogier light-headed by the end otthe 12.52km test.

Behind Loeb was Elfyn Evans who eased through the short final leg to claim fourth in a Ford Fiesta, more than a minute adrift of Loeb. Team-mate Teemu Suninen held off Esapekka Lappi to secure fifth, his cause aided when Lappi spun his C3 in the final stage.

The WRC returns to Europe later this month for the first of two hot weather gravel road fixtures there. Rally of Portugal is based in Matosinhos, Porto, on 30 May – 2 June.

WRC Rally of Chile results

1. O Tänak  Toyota Yaris 3hr 15min 53.8sec
2. S Ogier Citroën C3 +23.1sec
3. S Loeb Hyundai i20 +30.2sec
4. E Evans Ford Fiesta +1min 36.7sec
5. T Suninen Ford Fiesta +3min 15.6sec
6. E Lappi Citroën C3 +3min 45.4sec

WRC Drivers standings (after round 6 of 14)

1. S Ogier 122pts
2. O Tänak 112pts
3. T Neuville 110pts


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Tanak on the verge of the win at WRC Rally Argentina

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Tanak captures 2nd win of season at WRC Rally Deutschland

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Tanak powers ahead of Mikkelsen after day 3 of WRC Rally Germany

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Ott Tanak captures first-ever victory at WRC Rally Sardinia

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Ott Tanak leads WRC Rally Poland after first leg

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