WRC News: Tanak’s new start with Hyundai ‘better than expected’ – WRC

Reigning World Rally champion Ott Tanak believes his start with the Hyundai team has been better than expected, despite a serious crash and his 24-point deficit to leader Sebastien Ogier.

Tanak ended Ogier’s run of six world titles with Toyota last year, but decided to join Hyundai alongside Thierry Neuville for 2020.

That move allowed Ogier to take Tanak’s place in the pacesetting Yaris WRC and, after three rounds, the Frenchman leads the standings after winning the most recent round in Mexico.

Tanak suffered a big crash at the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally in January, but then scored second places in Sweden and Mexico.

He currently lies fifth in the drivers’ table, four points behind team-mate Neuville, who scored Hyundai’s only win of the season so far on the Monte.

“In a way, the start of my time with Hyundai Motorsport was better than I expected,” said Tanak.

“We all know that Thierry has been in the team for a long time. He’s been the star driver.

“Coming into an environment like that you don’t expect the same kind of attention, but this team has matured and started to be very strong in recent years.

“I’ve been very positively surprised with the approach, and I believe this will show in our results when we return from the break.

“If you have a good relationship with the team, it will always pay you back.”

Tanak has maintained contact with key Hyundai personnel during the coronavirus-induced break and believes the time should allow him to be stronger when the WRC resumes.

The next scheduled round is due to be Rally Finland on 6-9 August, following the recent cancellation of the Safari Rally.

“We have stayed in close contact, with [team boss] Andrea Adamo, and with the engineers,” said the 32-year-old Estonian.

“We’ve had the chance to look back at the opening rallies, to gather a bit more experience and learning for the future.

“I’ve been in touch with [co-driver] Martin Jarveoja too. He’s a guy I’ve seen every day for three years in a row.

“He’s also enjoying time at home but missing the rallies as much as I do. We are all ready to go again.

“I missed rallying so much I invested in a simulator. I’ve been on it a few times but it’s not the same as the real thing, and not like what we are usually able to do through the forests.

“It’s also different when you’re not working together with the team on a daily basis.

“Nothing matches the thrill of putting on your helmet and the excitement of the rallies.”