TOYOTA’S leading WRC driver Ott Tanak has staked his claim to win the team’s “home” event by taking a dress-rehearsal victory in his own country at the weekend.
PHOTO: From left, Seb Marshall, Hayden Paddon, Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Craig Breen and Scott Martin celebrate on the Rally Estonia podium (Hyundai pic)
Tanak beat Hayden Paddon of Hyundai and Citroën’s Craig Breen’s to win Rally Estonia, traditionally regarded as a warm-up event for Rally Finland, which kicks off the second half of the WRC season on 26-29 July.
The Estonian is sitting third in the WRC drivers’ standings after taking a first and two second places in the seven rounds of the 2018 season so far. Although Japanese-owned, Toyota Gazoo Racing’s WRC squad is run by Finnish-based Tommi Mäkkinen Racing.
Rally Estonia is known for its high-speed stages, similar to those drivers will tackle on Rally Finland, the WRC’s fastest event.
Tanak dominated in Estonia, winning 12 of the 16 stages. Breen was second early in the rally but lost time with a spin and then a late penalty on Sunday.
Ford squad M-Sport did not compete in Finland but tested with both Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans last week, evaluating a new rear wing in a search for more performance to help get them back into the lead ahead of Hyundai in the drivers’ and manufacturers championships.