WRC

Ott Tanak wants early 2020 contract talks

Estonian rally star Ott Tänak expects to start talks over his WRC future very soon, but he would not say whether he will remain at Toyota beyond the end of 2019.

Tänak scored six podiums and the most stage wins of any driver in 2018, but lost out in a three-way fight for the title on the final event of the 2018 season, Rally Australia in his first season with Toyota.

However this year he has taken three podiums in the first four rounds and is currently third in the championship, behind Sébastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville. But he is also just five points off the lead.

Tänak’s current two-year agreement with Toyota ends after this season and asked what he planned for 2020 onwards he said only: "I'm keeping my eyes and ears open. I definitely want the best possible opportunity for the future. I don't know how long I will continue, but if I continue then I want it to be in the best possible way.

"We will start to work on a deal now. There's no point to leave it long into the season."

He also said he was not about to walk away from rallying if he wins the title this year, adding: "Like I said, there's more for more to achieve in this sport."

He also had praise for Tommi Mäkinen and Toyota over how they came back from mid-season issues in 2018, saying: "It was a little bit tough last year. But we've got some more people now and some of the stress has gone from the chief engineers - we have more hands and less stress. This gives us the chances to work more than last year.

"It's true things were a bit tight [last year], but we're all a bit more relaxed now. Tommi is listening more to the engineers now, I'm happy about that, and the engineers are listening to the drivers and the feedback we have.  It's an open approach with a good atmosphere that I like in the team."

His team-mates Kris Meeke and Jari-Matti Latvala also have contracts up for renewal at the end of the 2019 season.