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WRC Rally Poland

Tanak: Impossible to avoid deer collision at Rally Poland with 0.26s to react

The World Rally Championship title contender’s Rally Poland victory hopes are over

Ott Tanak says it was impossible to avoid a collision with a deer that put him out of the World Rally Championship’s Rally Poland, revealing he had only 0.26s to react.

The Hyundai driver was forced to retire from Friday’s gravel stages when a deer jumped out into the road on stage two [Stanczyki, 29.40km] which left the Estonian with an unavoidable accident.

Following the impact Tanak immediately pulled off the road 18.3km into the test with damage to the front of his i20 N. Tanak and co-driver Martin Jarveoja were unscathed following the crash.

The 2019 world champion confirmed that the impact had ripped the entire cooling system from the car and that there was no time to react with his I20 N travelling at 117mph.

“It was on a straight actually and we have just checked that from the moment the head of deer came out of the bush and the impact was 0.26s, it was very short,” said Tanak. “There was no time to panic and really no time to react as well.”

Ott Tänak, Hyundai World Rally Team

Ott Tänak, Hyundai World Rally Team

Photo by: Fabien Dufour / Hyundai Motorsport

The unfortunate incident dealt a cruel blow to Tanak who was tipped as the favourite to win this weekend as he aimed to close the 18-point gap to championship leader and team-mate Thierry Neuville. Tanak had held the overnight lead after winning Thursday’s super special stage.

It is the second dose of misfortune Tanak has suffered this year when he was forced out of Safari Rally Kenya following an impact with a rock in the middle of the road.

Tanak expects his Hyundai team will be able to fix the car in time to rejoin the rally on Saturday, but will likely face a tough road position to battle for the 12 championship points on offer on Super Sunday.

“We need to try [to attack for Sunday points] but we could see today that Thierry is losing a second per kilometre opening the road it seems difficult even for Sunday,” he added. “We need to start tomorrow though.”

Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen ended Friday morning with a 2.2s rally lead over WRC debutant Martins Sesks driving a non-hybrid powered M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1 car.

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