Tanak hails “near perfect” Chile display
By Jason Craig
Tuesday 3rd October, 2023 - 7:01am
Ott Tanak hopes the “positive vibes” surrounding his Rally Chile victory will lift the spirits of everyone who has a hand in M-Sport Ford’s FIA World Rally Championship programme.
Tanak was at his brilliant best on the South American event, mastering the art of tyre preservation better than his rivals over the three legs to seal the win by 42 seconds alongside Martin Jarveoja.
It was the pair’s second consecutive Rally Chile success but crucially helped put to bed a barren spell that stretches back to February’s Rally Sweden – the scene of their previous triumph.
Since then, Tanak’s quest to become world champion for a second time has been thwarted by a myriad of technical issues that have blighted his Puma Rally1. However, the continued efforts of technicians and engineers employed by M-Sport Ford to remedy these were rewarded on Sunday.
Asked if the result was hugely significant given the scrutiny the British team has come under, Tanak said: “I hope so, it should be – there are a lot of positives. Yes, it has been a very good weekend.
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“It is definitely nice to have some positive outcomes this weekend as it has been a long, long time [since we won last], so definitely, I think we were quite close to a perfect weekend here in Chile.
“I mean, you know, some positive vibes have been created because of this result so I’m sure it has been a great week and a great weekend for everyone involved with the programme,” he added.
The turning point came on Saturday as Hyundai but more so Toyota struggled to make the correct tyre calls as their crews appeared to underestimate just how rough the gravel speed tests were.
There was no such trouble for Tanak, however, as he opted for Pirelli’s harder compound to deal with the longer, technical and more abrasive roads in comparison to the rest of the Rally1 field.
“This weekend was different to what we normally have to do,” admitted Tanak.
“This time, it was not too much about pure performance at all; it was a lot, obviously, about the [tyre] management and how to get through the loops, so it was a different kind of challenge. It worked in our favour.”
Tanak remains fourth in the Drivers’ standings on 146 points, whilst Rally Chile runner-up Thierry Neuville cemented third place and took his total for the campaign to date to 155 points.