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WRC Rally Finland

Tanak explains fiery exit from WRC Rally Finland

Ott Tanak has explained how an impact triggered an engine failure and a subsequent fire that resulted in a "critical situation" as he retired from Rally Finland.

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

The M-Sport driver suffered a power loss in during his pass through stage three (Lankamaa, 14.21km) on Friday morning which was caused by an impact to the bottom of his Ford Puma.

Tanak, who started the day leading the rally after winning Thursday night’s Super Special, believes his car struck a bedrock during the stage which went through the car’s sump guard.

The impact caused terminal damage to the engine which will force Tanak out of the rally completely. It is the second rally in succession that the 2019 world champion has suffered an engine issue after M-Sport were forced to change a power unit prior to the start of Rally Estonia.

Tanak was able to run on EV mode briefly after losing power, although part of the reason to engage that power mode was to help cool the car after a fire ignited.

“In a very fast place it seems we touched a bedrock or something on the road in a compression and obviously it has broken the sump guard and gone through the sump guard,” said Tanak.

“I can see underneath that the starter motor is cracked and is broken and other than that I cannot find anything else but the oil from the engine has gone out and the engine is clearly broken.

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

“It was not a little [fire] it was a critical situation to be honest as we were alone in the forest.

“There was fire immediately but we tried to cool it down and were hoping that driving on EV mode it would cool it down as the exhaust was hot and if it is full of oil it could burn down quite quickly.

“We drove as long as EV allowed us to cool it down but when we stopped it was full of fire. We were lucky to have two extinguishers there.”

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Asked if there is any hope of repair to allow him to rejoin the rally on Saturday, Tanak replied: “It is quite probably a hole in the engine so I think this one [event] will be finished.”

To compound the woes for M-Sport, the team's sister car driven by Pierre-Louis Loubet retired from the day’s action after clipping a rock that damaged the Puma’s left suspension in the same Lankamaa test.

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