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WRC Rally Estonia

Tanak, Solberg boost WRC Estonia prep with victories

M-Sport’s Ott Tanak defeated Hyundai’s Teemu Suninen to win the Lõuna-Eesti Rally in Estonia ahead of next week’s World Rally Championship visit to the country.

Ott Tänak, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

The pair elected to participate in last Saturday’s one-day gravel rally to aid their preparation for Rally Estonia’s high-speed stages.

Tanak was eager to unlock speed from his M-Sport Ford Puma with the event following a pre-event test where a modified rear wing was tested.

The 2019 world champion won all nine stages to win the rally by 38s from Suninen, who was making his first competitive outing in the Hyundai i20 N Rally1, ahead of his return to WRC’s top flight.

“I believe that we have taken a step forward,” said Tanak in an interview with Estonian public radio company ERR

“It will be very difficult for us, especially against Toyota, as they will probably dominate the World Rally Championship in Estonia. But I still want to try to join some kind of fight and get something done.”

Suninen has previously tested the i20 N Rally1 on two occasions but last weekend offered valuable mileage to allow the Finn to hit the ground running when he pilots Hyundai’s third car for the first time next week. 

“The day was very good for me, because I was able to drive in special tests for the first time. I got much more here than just from the test in Finland,” Suninen told Estonian magazine Postimees.

“In the beginning, the pace was at a normal level, but we were a few seconds behind Ott. We had a good feeling in the car, and finally the pace started to be at a good level.”

Oliver Solberg, Elliott Edmondson, Volkswagen Polo GTi R5

Oliver Solberg, Elliott Edmondson, Volkswagen Polo GTi R5

Photo by: atWorld

In Sweden, WRC2 title contender Oliver Solberg claimed his third career European Rally Championship event win with a triumph on home soil at the Royal Rally of Scandinavia.

Solberg, making his first ERC appearance since 2020, produced an impressive drive to win 10 of the 16 stages, taking the victory by 22.5s from championship leader and former Hyundai WRC factory driver Hayden Paddon

Solberg, piloting a Volkswagen Polo R5 he's previously run in the ERC, ended Friday with a 10.2s lead over Paddon. The gap reduced to 6.9s through Saturday before a string of stage wins helped Solberg to victory.

The success arrived during an event that saw five of his family members in action on the stages. His 2003 world rally champion father Petter drove a family-owned Citroen C4 WRC, alongside his mother Tove.

Oliver’s mother Pernilla Solberg was reunited with the Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI she drove to success in the 2000 WRC, while his uncle Henning Solberg and his wife Maud jumped in the cockpit of a Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD owned by Petter.

“This is one of the special ones. Of course, like you can imagine, it means so much to come to these roads, so close to my home, and to win against these guys in the European Rally Championship,” said Oliver Solberg.

“But it’s more than that. It was special because so many of the family was here and we were all having such a fantastic time – I knew I had to make this result and that was giving some pressure to myself!

“And there was such a big fight! Hayden [Paddon] was driving so well, for the first day we were really close and I would like to say loving this fight.

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“At times though, it was a little bit scary! We had some steering rack issues and I was fighting a little bit with the car to keep it in a straight line and when you have the [rev] limiter in top and you’re not sure if the car’s going left or right… it was interesting!

“But these were special roads. Some of the best stages I ever drove. It was strange to see them with no snowbanks, but I just loved it. It’s nice to drive like this before we go to Estonia.”

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