WRC analysis: How did Tanak and DMACK nearly win in Poland?

Ott Tanak came within a whisker of scoring his and DMACK's maiden World Rally Championship win in Poland on Sunday

WRC analysis: How did Tanak and DMACK nearly win in Poland?

Such a result would also have ended M-Sport's three and a half-year drought and given the WRC its first non-Michelin success since the end of 2010.

In the end, Tanak and his co-driver Raigo Molder fell at the penultimate hurdle. Second was little consolation.

Here's how the Estonian-Cumbrian alliance shook up the world championship's established order.

WHY WAS DMACK SO GOOD IN POLAND?

The foundations were laid in September last year, with the announcement that Fiorenzo Brivio - arguably the WRC's best and most experienced tyre engineer - would leave Pirelli bound for DMACK.

The next step forward came with the shift in production of rally tyres from China to Cooper Tire's facility in Wiltshire.

This allowed the end result of Brivio's black art mixing compound and construction to be tried, tested and tweaked in days rather than weeks. That flexibility was enough for DMACK to target and hit the precise 2016 gravel tyres it wanted.

Canny enough to realise he couldn't take Michelin on across the spread of a season, Dick Cormack focused his firm's attentions on the less abrasive gravel rallies, finetuning the DMG+2 tyre to Poland perfectly.

In a nutshell, DMACK's soft tyre was much softer than the opposition, so it would work a treat in the wet. The hard is only marginally harder than Michelin's soft tyre, which means it misses the durability needed for Sardinia (hence the tyres being destroyed in Italy), but it offered more grip and stability across a morning or afternoon loop in Poland.

WILL IT BE THIS GOOD ANYWHERE ELSE?

Finland and Rally GB are both target events for DMACK. Finland's roads aren't quite as soft as the final-day stages around Mikolajki in Poland, reducing the risk of tyres being knocked off the rim in the ruts.

The working temperatures around Jyvasklya are very similar to Poland, with Finland as likely to offer 14 degrees and heavy rain as 30 degrees and bright sunshine. Again, DMACK's got both bases and all weather eventualities covered.

If there's a weaker link, it's likely to be Wales because of the increased risk of punctures on the Deeside-based event.

To get the performance out of the tyre DMACK has lightened it, taking some of the weight - and therefore strength and protection - out of the sidewall.

HOW MUCH OF THE PERFORMANCE WAS DOWN TO TANAK?

With none of the other factory drivers using DMACK rubber, it's hard to say - but don't forget Tanak's speed in Poland last year: he led and should have won 12 months ago.

And he's Estonian, which means he was born and brought up on fast gravel. It's a bit like being a Finn, but don't make the mistake of putting that to him!

WAS RUNNING ORDER A FACTOR?

Yes. You only had to look at Sebastien Ogier's time loss, particularly on Saturday's looser stages, to see it was a benefit to run further back.

How much of a benefit is debatable. Using the same machinery as Ogier, Andreas Mikkelsen was able to fight Tanak all the way and the Norwegian was third on the road, five places ahead of the DMACK Fiesta.

WAS THE PUNCTURE A TYRE FAILURE OR MISTAKE?

When's a puncture a puncture? The tyre was knocked off the rim in one of the cavernous ruts created by running a world championship road on what was pretty much a beach.

The Sunday stages in Poland are the softest and sandiest of the season, so when it rains it's inevitable the road will dig up.

Ruts like these are a real challenge. Some drivers cope better than others. Jari-Matti Latvala, for example, makes his aggressive style work by forcing the car down the road, while others hate the way the surface unbalances the car and forces them to follow one line.

Tanak is generally very good in the ruts, but with less strength in the sidewall maybe his front-right boot was a little bit more exposed than some of the others.

That said, there were plenty of punctures and tyres off rims for DMACK's rivals.

WHAT DOES THIS SAY ABOUT THE FORD FIESTA'S COMPETITIVENESS?

It confirms beyond doubt that the Fiesta is still capable of winning at the highest level.

Poland demands two things: plenty of grunt from the engine and a chassis which inspires confidence at crazy-high speeds. M-Sport's motor had and has both in spades.

shares
comments
Rally Poland: Mikkelsen snatches victory after Tanak error
Previous article

Rally Poland: Mikkelsen snatches victory after Tanak error

Next article

Control tyres could return to World Rally Championship in 2017

Control tyres could return to World Rally Championship in 2017
Load comments
How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain Plus

How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain

While all pre-event chat focused on the two World Rally Championship title fighters, their closest challenger charged into the spotlight on Rally Spain. Thierry Neuville's star turn and another strong drive from Elfyn Evans in his fight with Sebastien Ogier made for an intriguing event as the 2021 campaign nears its crunch point

WRC
Oct 18, 2021
The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0 Plus

The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0

Two decades after Petter Solberg emerged as a World Rally Championship winner, his son Oliver is ready to take the WRC by storm. Having secured a part-time WRC factory drive for Hyundai in 2022, he's raring to repay the marque's faith in him and follow in his 2003 champion father's footsteps

WRC
Oct 14, 2021
Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season Plus

Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season

The World Rally Championship will step into a new hybrid era in 2022, but the car changes haven't been the only excitement that has built within the paddock. WRC's 'silly season' kicked off in a big way and all the key driver moves for 2022 - of which there are many - look set to shake things up

WRC
Oct 13, 2021
How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age Plus

How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age

By his own admission, the fifth World Rally Championship victory of Elfyn Evans' career in Finland last weekend was the drive of his life. Winning five stages in a row and soaking up huge pressure from the Hyundais on the fastest gravel stages around, the Welshman put in a faultless showing that proved what he is truly made of

WRC
Oct 4, 2021
Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant? Plus

Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains Plus

How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Plus

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Plus

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021