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WRC Rally Finland

Tanak: "Perfect package" required to challenge for WRC Finland win

Ott Tanak intends to “go all out” to challenge for a World Rally Championship victory in Finland, but warns a “perfect package” is required to be on the pace.

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

Photo by: M-Sport

The M-Sport-Ford driver heads to the WRC’s famous fast gravel rally with the envious record of three wins in his last four outings in Finland, including a heroic drive to defeat home hero Kalle Rovanpera last year.    

Tanak is in need of a strong result to boost his WRC title aspirations after a five-minute engine change penalty robbed the Estonian of a chance to claim a strong points haul at his home round two weeks ago.  

However, the 2019 world champion is expecting to face a tough ask to repeat his Rally Finland form of 12 months ago when he took an underperforming Hyundai to victory. Now driving for M-Sport, Tanak says the Ford squad is currently behind its Toyota and Hyundai rivals. 

“At the moment, the speed deficit [to Toyota and Hyundai] is quite big and obviously last year the case was different,” Tanak told Autosport. 

“In Finland, you really need a perfect package to be on the pace there.

“Let’s see, we will definitely try but unfortunately we don’t have much more performance to add to what we have at the moment, but we are still going to go all out from our side and see how far we can get.”

Ott Tänak, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

Ott Tänak, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

Photo by: M-Sport

While Toyota used the last homologation window to introduce an engine upgrade in Estonia, M-Sport has elected against using one of its homologation jokers to improve the performance of its Ford Puma.

Instead, the team has been working on developing outside of homologation jokers, focusing on honing set-ups and dampers in test sessions and national rallies.

Team principal Richard Millener insists the squad is pushing its “hardest” to improve its package.

“We have just got to keep giving [Ott] everything we can - I can guarantee the team is trying their hardest and that is all we can do," Millener told Autosport. 

“They are a committed bunch of people and they are as frustrated as Ott is about the results we are getting. We all feel we deserve better but we still need to keep going.   

“We are not going to gain anything incredible but I think the jokers and development upgrades are a bit misleading as well. 

“There have been stories of Toyota coming to Estonia with upgrades but a lot of the development has been frozen for cost purposes and to keep the competition close. 

“Kalle won in Estonia but the other Toyotas were not storming away into the distance, so I think whatever anybody does I don’t think it is going to be ground breaking, it will be small margins. 

“We are working on that and a lot of results are based on performance and feeling and confidence of the drivers.”

Rally Finland begins on Thursday evening with the first of 22 scheduled stages.

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