Estonia WRC: Tanak revitalises title bid with home win

Hyundai driver Ott Tanak scored victory in his home WRC event in Estonia to revitalise his title bid heading into the final three rounds of the season.

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Reigning champion Tanak finished 22.2 seconds of Hyundai stablemate Craig Breen to notch up his first win with the Korean manufacturer, while points leader Sebastien Ogier was a further 4.7s back in third place for Toyota.

Helped by three bonus points for the third-fastest time in the Power Stage, It means Tanak is now within 13 points of Ogier's lead with only Rally Turkey, Rally Italy and the Ypres Rally left on the 2020 WRC schedule.

Ogier has a buffer of nine points over Toyota teammate Elfyn Evans was second-fastest on the Power Stage and fourth overall. Power Stage winner Kalle Rovanpera completed the top five.

With first and second place held comfortably overnight, Tanak and Breen merely had to minimise the risks in the six final stages and they successfully kept drama to a minimum – bar one heart-stopping moment for Tanak, when a rut almost sent him into a ditch.

Disaster was averted at the cost of only a couple of tenths of a second and Tanak kept his stranglehold even as the pursuing Toyotas were able to win every stage of the day. Evans took the first stage of the morning, Ogier would claim two and Rovanpera ended up winning three, including the Power Stage.

The only fly in Toyota’s ointment on the closing day was the loss of its fourth car, wheeled by Takamoto Katsuta, when he rolled out of sixth place. 

Erstwhile championship leader, and biggest loser from the WRC’s Estonian adventure, was Thierry Neuville in the third Hyundai. The Belgian crashed out on Saturday and restarted hoping just to save his tyres for an all-out assault on the bonus Power Stage points. 

As he attempted to launch into the stage, however, something was clearly amiss with the car’s electronics and the i20 limped through to the finish. His hopes of leading Hyundai’s charge in the three remaining rallies of 2020 would appear to be bleak.

Hyundai also lost its fourth car, a 2019-spec i20 WRC entered for reigning WRC2 champion Pierre-Louis Loubet, when his steering gave out on the second stage of the day.

M-Sport was the benefactor and gained valuable points as Teemu Suninen and Esapekka Lappi finished in sixth and seventh respectively, with Gus Greensmith coming home eighth.

In WRC2 the Citroen of Mads Ostberg was never really challenged and was followed on to the podium by M-Sport’s French hopeful Adrien Fourmaux. Hyundai's Nikolai Gryazin had been set to take the runner-up spot until he suffered a puncture on the final stage, allowing Fourmaux through and handing third place to Swedish privateer Pontus Tidemand.

Finishing in front of all the WRC2 runners however, in ninth overall was Oliver Solberg, claiming his first WRC3 victory in emphatic style. 

Rally results (top 10):

Cla Driver/Codriver Car Class Total Time Gap
1 Estonia Ott Tanak
Estonia Martin Jarveoja
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC RC1 1:59'53.600
2 Ireland Craig Breen
Ireland Paul Nagle
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC RC1 2:00'15.800 22.200
3 France Sébastien Ogier
France Julien Ingrassia
Toyota Yaris WRC RC1 2:00'20.500 26.900
4 United Kingdom Elfyn Evans
United Kingdom Scott Martin
Toyota Yaris WRC RC1 2:00'35.500 41.900
5 Finland Kalle Rovanperä
Finland Jonne Halttunen
Toyota Yaris WRC RC1 2:01'12.300 1'18.700
6 Finland Teemu Suninen
Finland Jarmo Lehtinen
Ford Fiesta WRC RC1 2:02'33.200 2'39.600
7 Finland Esapekka Lappi
Finland Janne Ferm
Ford Fiesta WRC RC1 2:02'45.600 2'52.000
8 United Kingdom Gus Greensmith
United Kingdom Elliott Edmondson
Ford Fiesta WRC RC1 2:04'47.400 4'53.800
9 Norway Oliver Solberg
Aaron Johnston
Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 RC2 2:07'32.200 7'38.600
10 Norway Mads Ostberg
Norway Torstein Eriksen
Citroën C3 R5 RC2 2:08'10.900 8'17.300
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Estonia WRC: Hyundai in control as local hero Tanak leads Breen
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