Double delight for Ott Tanak at Rally Germany
After winning Rallye Deutschland last year in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC, Estonia’s Ott Tänak was keen to show that it was his driving talent, and not the car, that determined his outcome in Germany this year.
And by the time it was all over on Sunday afternoon it was Tänak, in his current Toyota Yaris WRC stead, who again stood on the top step of the podium some 40s ahead of his nearest rival Thierry Neuville in his Hyundai i20 WRC. The Belgian just lucking into second place as a result of both teammate Dani Sordo and Toyota’s Jari-Matti Latvala exiting the event on the final morning when they were both comfortably ahead of the WRC points leader.
And after taking a maximum haul of 30 points in Finland just three weeks ago, Tänak dropped just one point in Germany (he only managed second on the Power Stage on Sunday afternoon) to close within 36 points of current WRC points leader Neuville and just 13 adrift of reigning WRC champ Seb Ogier after perhaps rather prematurely counting himself out of the WRC battle just two events ago.
With four rounds remaining now remaining in this year’s title race, there are a maximum of 120 points on the table for the now three way battle at the top!
“I don’t know about a championship challenge but it’s great to win this specific event,” explained Tänak. “This morning was very, very tough. Seb was pushing so hard and it was difficult to keep up with him,” he said.
Tänak was only headed for one stage on Friday morning and laid the platform for success with a crushing drive over the rest of the field in the zigzag Mosel vineyard tracks that made up Friday’s stages. He must have breathed a huge sigh of relief when Seb Ogier had to stop and change a damaged wheel on Saturday afternoon which dropped the Frenchman down the order from second to ninth.
But in any event, current WRC pacesetter Neuville couldn’t match Tänak as he struggled with his i20’s handling after inheriting his unexpected second place.
Starting the final day, JML held a 0.8s advantage over Dani Sordo before he retired his Toyota Yaris WRC in the opening test with hydraulic problems while the Spaniard crashed his Hyundai i20 WRC into the vines. And even though he managed to limp out of the stage, a water leak in the engine forced him out of the event.
A rather surprised Esapekka Lappi finished third in another Yaris WRC, a full minute adrift of Neuville. It was the Finn’s best asphalt result in his career so far.
After his puncture on Saturday, Seb Ogier’s dreams of a sixth WRC title must have looked bleak when he dropped to ninth but he threw caution to the wind and two stage wins and second today promoted the Fiesta driver to an unexpected fourth place. Add to that a maximum five Power Stage bonus points, meant that he only conceded two points to title rival Neuville.
Ogier’s teammate Teemu Suninen finished fifth on his asphalt debut in a WR Car after leapfrogging Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen, who had struggled throughout the event with the handling of his i20.
Rally Turkey returns to the WRC for the first time since 2010 next month with the gravel rounds around Marmaris hosting the crews from the 13th of September.
1. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3:03:36.9
2. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +39.2
3. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:00.9
4. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:34.5
5. Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:02.9
6. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2:13.8
7. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +2:39.1
8. Marijan Griebel / Alexander Rath (Citroen DS3 WRC) +10:41.2
9. Jan Kopecky / Pavel Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) +13:12.8
10. Kalle Rovanpera / Jonne Halttunen (Skoda Fabia R5) +13:16.6