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Tanak not worried about 2024 WRC title bid after difficult start

Ott Tanak is not worried about his World Rally Championship title hopes following a difficult start to the year that has left him behind rivals Thierry Neuville and Elfyn Evans.

Ott Tänak, Hyundai World Rally Team

Photo by: Fabien Dufour / Hyundai Motorsport

Hyundai’s new signing has admitted his season to date has “not been great” after costly mistakes in both the Monte Carlo season opener and last weekend’s visit to Sweden.

The 2019 world champion, touted among the favourites to challenge for this year’s title, is fifth in the championship standings, 27 points behind team-mate and championship leader Neuville, and 24 adrift of Toyota’s Evans.

Tanak finished a distant fourth behind winner Neuville in Monte Carlo after losing time when caught out by a patch of ice and was then hampered by an anti-lag system issue on his i20 N.

In Sweden, he salvaged six points after crashing out on stage four while sitting in third spot. Tanak was able to rejoin the rally where he benefitted from the championship’s new points system to secure Super Sunday and Power Stage points. Team-mate Esapekka Lappi won the rally to continue Hyundai’s perfect start to 2024.  

While Tanak already faces a deficit to his rivals after two events, the Estonian is not pushing the panic button.

“No, I’m not worried about the championship. It is not great to start the season like this, but it is not the first time this has happened,” said Tanak.

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

“It was not a good drive [in Sweden]. It has been a bit tricky, the Friday when it was a bit slippy the feeling was better, but when the grip improved we never had a good feeling in the car.

“We tried to maximise but definitely we were not fast enough.”

“At least we scored points but generally it has not been a great start to the season.”

Tanak has however earmarked several areas where he can improve, but is eager to chalk up a clean rally on the board when the championship heads to Kenya next month.

“It doesn’t matter what was positive [in Sweden], it is more about how we can improve. There are definitely many things we can do better and that is positive for sure,” he added.

“After you have screwed up a few rallies you are definitely looking forward to having a clean one.”

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