M-Sport: Tanak's WRC Rally Chile lead down to “hard work not luck”

M-Sport team principal Richard Millener says hard work on strategy has helped put Ott Tanak and the team in sight of a World Rally Championship win in Chile.

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The Ford squad closed in on a second WRC win of the season with Tanak ending Saturday with a 58.3s lead over Hyundai’s Teemu Suninen ahead of Sunday’s final four stages.

Tanak took a 4.2s overnight lead into Saturday but it was a strategy call, made on Friday night, to take four hard tyres as part of his tyre package for the morning loop, that proved crucial.

Facing extremely abrasive gravel roads, Tanak was the only driver running four hard tyres for stage nine (Maria de las Cruces, 28.72km, which helped the Estonian extend his lead to 47.8s. Toyota's decision to take only soft tyres backfired as Elfyn Evans ceded almost a minute, dropping him from second to fourth.

Tanak then successfully managed his tyres across the afternoon to open up a commanding lead, ending the day winning four of the six stages.

Reflecting on the performance, Millener paid tribute to his team for the work behind the scenes that has led to one of its strongest days of a challenging season.

“I think the whole team is very happy with the position we find ourselves in, and I would say it is not through luck, but strategy and the hard work that we have put in to come here this weekend,” said Millener.

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team area

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team area

Photo by: M-Sport

“We knew we had a good opportunity with a good road position and we did the very best to make sure we ended up in this position today.

"I think we made the best strategy this morning as well and that is something we considered last night and decided to go forward with, so that has worked really well for us.

"The engineers were pushing for this one [tyre call] and I think Ott was 75% sure he wanted to go with this strategy, but was maybe a little bit unsure this morning, but as soon as he got to the end of the first stage he knew he had the best package.

“I think we can be really happy with that, and that for me is a perfect example of teamwork.

“It has ben a really strong day for us and Ott showed his class this afternoon. He has been in control all afternoon managing the gap.

“We come back this evening with a very healthy gap but there is still four stages to go and I have been here before and things change. But I hope that what we have shown this weekend means we can convert this into a good result.”

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Tanak also credited the tyre call as a key factor behind his lead of almost a minute, but remains focussed on bringing home his first win since Sweden in February.

“Clearly most of it [my drive] was decided last night in the container. This 40-50s this morning was clearly because of the tyre choices and the differences we did compared to the others,” said Tanak.

“This afternoon, initially the first stage I thought I was maybe driving a bit too slow and saving the tyres too much as my tyre wear was less than this morning, but we had a good tyres for the next two stages.

“There is no doubt nothing is done at the moment. We have a good margin so we can definitely manage.

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