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WRC Rally Mexico

Tanak: M-Sport "car and me, a mismatch" in WRC Mexico

Ott Tanak believes there was a mismatch between himself and M-Sport's World Rally Championship Ford Puma after a challenging first gravel outing in the car at Rally Mexico.

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

The Rally Sweden winner endured an eventful rally as he recovered to finish ninth after losing 12 minutes to a turbo failure on Friday, while claiming four bonus championship points on the powerstage.

Tanak had started the rally by winning Thursday night's two superspecial stages before drama struck on stage 3. The 2019 world champion, who also faced the disadvantage of starting first on the road, then battled a mysterious issue with his Puma that seemed to hamper his pace.

Despite describing driving the Puma as "unnatural", Tanak was able to coax enough speed to claim four stage wins. Arguably his most impressive showing arrived on the powerstage, where he logged the second-fastest time behind rally winner Sebastien Ogier.

The Estonian ultimately slipped to fourth in the championship standings, nine points behind leader Ogier.

"I'm happy to cross the finish line, there was nothing more we could have taken from here," said Tanak, who joined M-Sport from Hyundai over the winter.

"Still, it's positive to at least take some points because on Friday it didn't look like we could get any points.

"The car [performance] is there, it has always been there. It's just me and the car are a bit of a mismatch, which is tricky, but let's see what we can come up with in the next weeks.

"Like I said, the car is there and the car is competitive in other hands, but just for me it is not natural."

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: M-Sport

M-Sport team principal Richard Millener was however impressed with the performance from Tanak to salvage crucial championship points.

"On paper, the results are disappointing for us this weekend, there is no doubt about that," said Millener.

"I have to say I am incredibly proud of what the team did to turn Ott's result around though. It went from looking like a retirement to soldiering on and going beyond what we thought possible in service on Friday.

"This team spirit helped us get Ott back into the top ten and in a strong enough position to score power stage points.

"Ott's driving too has been great. Yet again, he drove a clean rally with zero mistakes and that showed in the power stage - our championship position is still quite solid."

Tanak appears set to bolster his preparations for April's WRC visit to Croatia by tackling the Rallye Ardennes round of the Belgian national championship from 31 March to 1 April.

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