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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Good, The Unhealthy and a smiling Ott Tanak

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High Performer – Ott Tanak and Martin Jarveoja

When Ott Tanak and Martin Jarveoja are within the temper, they’re merely untouchable. This was the case in Sardinia as Tanak ended a victory drought stretching again to Arctic Rally Finland in February 2021. It was a dominant show highlighted by 9 stage wins from the 21 exams, which supplied a well timed reminder of the supreme expertise that secured the 2019 world title.

Far too typically in that 15 month hole between drinks, there have been glints of brilliance that most of the time have been extinguished by misfortune or reliability woes with the quick however fragile Hyundai. In Sardinia, Tanak did have his personal reliability concern threaten to disrupt one other encouraging run, however fortuitously the Estonian obtained a slice of luck for a change.

PLUS: How Tanak turned the tables to deliver Hyundai a timely WRC triumph

Organisers elected to cancel Friday closing two phases as a consequence of an incident involving WRC2 competitor Laurent Battut moments after Tanak’s i20 N developed a transmission challenge that may have value him priceless time in his battle with then-leader Esapekka Lappi. This reprieve allowed Hyundai to repair the difficulty.

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After rising within the lead as soon as Toyota’s Lappi crashed out throughout Saturday’s first stage, Tanak stamped his authority on the occasion. Six stage wins from a potential eight adopted on Saturday, the Estonian showing again to his good finest as he opened up a 46s lead over M-Sport’s Craig Breen.

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Hyundai World Rally Crew Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photograph by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

The pace even stunned Tanak himself at instances, given the i20 N is way from being the most effective Rally1 automotive within the area in the mean time. Two extra phases wins arrived on Sunday, regardless of backing off to protect his margin, which served as additional proof that the Tanak of {old} was again and at his devastating finest. Ultimately, he took the win by 1m03.2s from Breen.

“We’ve made some good steps,” mentioned Tanak. “In Portugal, we have been actually struggling and really we managed to enhance. Little question, if the arrogance is there then we will do job. We simply must maintain working.”

This success was performed out in extraordinarily troublesome situations for crews that confronted lengthy days and a congested itinerary held on tough gravel phases within the blistering warmth. The temperatures have been made even worse by cabin situations being far hotter in Rally1 vehicles as a consequence of their exhaust design, which means teams were permitted by the FIA to make last-minute changes to assist alleviate the issue.

“These vehicles are like an oven,” mentioned Tanak of the warmth. “Inside, it was too ‘properly carried out’, undoubtedly.”

Whereas this was an vital fifteenth profession win for Tanak, it was vastly vital for Hyundai after taking part in catch as much as its Toyota and M-Sport Ford rivals.

“It has been very difficult, particularly for the reason that starting of this [hybrid] era,” he continued. “We’re undoubtedly very comfortable, particularly for the mechanics. They put in an unbelievable effort all final yr and the start of this yr. This rally was not simple they usually made job to maintain the automotive going.”

Tanak is most definitely again and will show to be a thorn in championship chief Kalle Rovanpera’s facet if this way continues.

Pierre-Louis Loubet, Vincent Landais, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Pierre-Louis Loubet, Vincent Landais, M-Sport Ford World Rally Crew Ford Puma Rally1

Photograph by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Honourable mentions: Pierre-Louis Loubet, Craig Breen, Dani Sordo

Outdoors of Tanak’s brilliance there have been a number of standout drives worthy of point out. M-Sport’s Pierre-Louis Loubet produced arguably the most effective in what was solely his third begin within the Puma Rally1.

Eyebrows have been raised by some when M-Sport signed the Frenchman after a troublesome 2021 season driving a 2C Competitors Hyundai, however the 25-year-old has been rejuvenated since his transfer to the British squad. The 2019 WRC2 champion ended Friday third and got here inside 0.8s of a maiden stage win, as he led M-Sport’s cost forward of the workforce’s full-time driver; Craig Breen, Adrien Fourmaux and Gus Greensmith.  

Loubet would drop to fifth after a puncture however finally got here by way of to complete fourth and claimed a career-best outcome within the WRC. This was a preferred outcome after his nightmare 2021 that resulted in a damaged hip after being hit crossing a highway by a dashing automotive in Paris.

PLUS: How M-Sport’s faith in Loubet led to a WRC reprieve after a dismal 2021

Crew-mate Breen additionally delivered his finest drive of the season to this point, equalling his career-best WRC of second. This return to the rostrum for the primary time since Monte Carlo in January was much-needed, having admitted to being “barely misplaced” on the earlier two rallies. Breen, who additionally picked up a stage win, appears to have now discovered his groove within the Puma.

Lastly, Hyundai’s Dani Sordo as soon as once more confirmed why he’s thought to be useful secure pair of arms. The 39-year-old Spaniard delivered a mature drive to 3rd for the second occasion in a row, in solely his second begin within the 2022 specification i20 N.

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1 with the team

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Hyundai World Rally Crew Hyundai i20 N Rally1 with the workforce

Photograph by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Crew of the Week: Hyundai Motorsport

Hyundai’s by no means surrender angle was rewarded in Sardinia. A primary win of the Rally1 hybrid period by way of Tanak and a double podium courtesy of Sordo has secured the ‘Crew of the Week’ standing.

Now, it’s truthful to say the Hyundai i20N is way from being the most effective automotive within the service park, and life inside the Hyundai camp is way from excellent both. As was evident with Thierry Neuville and finally Sardinia winner Tanak, reliability nonetheless stays an ongoing concern, with transmission issues the most recent challenge. The issue for Neuville value him two minutes and ended his podium hopes.

Regardless of being properly behind its rivals after a late Rally1 sign-off and the shock departure of its charismatic workforce principal Andrea Adamo final yr, the workforce deserves enormous credit score for its work in overcoming adversity to ship a victory and a 3rd place end in Sardinia.

Deputy workforce director Julien Moncet told Autosport that the company had experienced a “tricky” and “complicated” month, however was clearly a relieved man come Sunday. There may be nonetheless loads of work required to show the i20 N into a daily victory contender, however there may be undoubtedly gentle on the finish of the tunnel.

“For positive, it’s nice aid for the entire workforce,” Moncet mentioned.

“We’ve pushed actually exhausting and we all know we had a troublesome begin to the season, since then we’ve pushed very exhausting. Each time it was troublesome, we have been shut however not shut sufficient. We had a whole lot of points by way of reliability and so forth.

“It’s actually welcome for the workforce and the drivers it’s good to get some motivation again.

“We all know there may be a whole lot of work to do and that is clear. We’ve to enhance on many factors, however proper now let’s benefit from the second.” 

M-Sport additionally impressed in Sardinia to attain its first podium since Monte Carlo, proving the pace of its Puma, whereas the perceived ‘bulletproof’ Toyota confirmed indicators of weak point as Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta had broken radiators, whereas the previous suffered a rear suspension challenge. 

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Crew Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photograph by: Crimson Bull Content material Pool

Second of Heartbreak

Toyota’s Esapekka Lappi outlined his pace to guide the rally on Friday, however a minor mistake on Saturday’s Stage 10 resulted in large penalties as he crashed out of the rally. Likewise, Evans had his personal story of woe when a heavy impression in a compression punched a gap in his radiator on Stage 3 .

 

It by no means rains but it surely pours, it appears, for Hyundai’s Neuville. The luckless Belgian was first to come back throughout dangerously poor visibility on Stage 2 earlier than his i20 N defaulted to 2 wheel drive as a consequence of a transmission challenge that ended his hopes of stable factors. In a bid to make up the misplaced floor, he rolled the i20 N on Stage 12.

 

M-Sport’s Adrien Fourmaux was seemingly on the right track for a stable fifth when he ran off the highway on Stage 17, which resulted in a confusing end to the day’s action.

 
Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photograph by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Fortunate Escapes

Kalle Rovanpera endured a comparatively quiet run to fifth, having struggled being first on the highway on the free gravel phases. He was nevertheless fortunate to flee a second on Stage 4 that left him with out the vast majority of GR Yaris’ rear wing.

 

High Tweets

Craig Breen reminded everybody that he has a possible comedy profession within the wings as soon as the rally profession has run its course. Breen did his finest to disguise a hybrid challenge together with his Ford Puma to the stage finish reporter Neil Cole.

 

Ott Tanak banished any myths that Rally1 vehicles wouldn’t be as spectacular because the earlier era.

 

Rally Sardinia definitely turned it on when it got here to the surroundings. 

 

Scorching Photographs 

Ott Tänak, Hyundai World Rally Team

Ott Tänak, Hyundai World Rally Crew

Photograph by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Craig Breen, Paul Nagle, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Craig Breen, Paul Nagle, M-Sport Ford World Rally Crew Ford Puma Rally1

Photograph by: M-Sport

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photograph by: Toyota Racing

Dani Sordo, Candido Carrera, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Dani Sordo, Candido Carrera, Hyundai World Rally Crew Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photograph by: Crimson Bull Content material Pool





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