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Tanak recovers 5th in Finland


M-Sport World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak overcame all adversity to secure a strong fifth place at this weekend’s Rally Finland – keeping the team in contention for second place in the manufacturers’ FIA World Rally Championship.

The Estonian’s speed was there, but a small mistake through Friday’s first pass of ‘Päijälä’ (SS3) undoubtedly cost him a second successive podium. Having over-corrected a corner, he clipped a rock and had to drive seven of Friday’s stages with a broken front-left damper. The mistake relegated him outside of the top ten, but he regrouped brilliantly.

Adopting a risk-free strategy for the following speed tests, the Estonian took the opportunity to perfect his pacenotes; having not experienced the event with the power and performance of a world rally car since 2012.

Despite erring on the side of caution, the pace of Tänak and co-driver Mõlder was highly encouraging. With no need to push the same limits as the leaders, they were still able to set a string of top-three times behind the wheel of their Ford Fiesta RS WRC – highlighting their potential and what could have so easily been another impressive result.

There was a similar story for Elfyn Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt who ran wide and broke their Fiesta’s rear suspension on ‘Finland’s biggest rock’ through the first pass of ‘Ouninpohja’ (SS4) on Friday morning.

2015 World Rally Championship / Round 08 /  Rally Finland // Worldwide Copyright: M-Sport/McKlein

2015 World Rally Championship / Round 08 / Rally Finland // Worldwide Copyright: M-Sport/McKlein

A less determined driver would have called it a day, but Evans affected a genius repair that saw him safely through all of the stages. Cleverly using his Snap-On spanner from the in-car toolkit to reinforce the broken suspension arm, the fix lasted six stages and allowed Evans to experience the entire route – something that could prove vital in years to come.
Unfortunately, his time loss was more severe than that of his team mate, and the Welshman found himself with little hope of breaking back into the top-ten.

Embarking on the final day of competition, the crews had to master a new configuration of a Finnish classic – two high-speed runs through a daunting 14.13 kilometres of ‘Myhinpää’.

Team Principal Malcolm Wilson set the fourth fastest time through a longer version of the stage in 1990, and the M-Sport duo were keen to replicate their boss’ success.

Tänak did just that – setting the fourth fastest time through the points-paying Power Stage to prove that he had the pace to have challenged for the podium this weekend.

Ott Tänak (5th) : “It’s obviously a little disappointing because I think we could have been on the podium this weekend. Unfortunately, I made a mistake on Friday morning and with no midday service it turned out to be extremely costly!

“But we can still take a lot of positives away from the weekend. After losing as much time as we did, you’re never really in the mood to push the limits and you never really find that sweet spot that brings the quick times. But even though we weren’t on the limit, the times were still pretty good and that’s really encouraging for the future.

“It’s a fantastic rally, and looking at the performance as a whole, I know that we have the potential to be challenging for the very best results next year.”

Elfyn Evans (13th) : “Hitting a rock is never a very clever thing to do, but I think we did well to get through all of Friday’s stages. I didn’t know if it would be possible with six stages and broken rear suspension, but we persevered and were rewarded with some good experience from all of the stages.


“There’s no other event on the calendar like Finland, so experience really does count for a lot and I think we can be happy with the progress we’ve made from this time last year. The pace was there or there abouts and I can see where there are areas for improvement. We’ve still got work to do, so if we can improve by half again then we’ll be challenging right at the top next year.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE : “When you consider what Ott [Tänak] and Elfyn [Evans] could have achieved this weekend there is of course a little disappointment. But on the other hand it’s fantastic to see both cars at the end of the rally.

“On Friday morning I really didn’t think it would be possible, but Elfyn’s road-side repair was incredible and the whole team worked hard to ensure we salvaged good points that keep us in contention for second place in the manufacturers’ championship.

“We’ve seen some great times from both drivers throughout the weekend which is really encouraging – especially when you consider that they weren’t taking the same risks as the front runners.

“We’ll turn our attention to Germany now where I think we can be strong. Elfyn proved that he could be competitive there last year, and even though he has not driven on asphalt since the end of 2012, Ott has had good pace in the past. Hopefully it will provide us with an opportunity to close the gap.”