Estonians Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja, taking part in their fourth event for the Hyundai Motorsport World Rally Team, earned their first victory in the i20 Coupé WRC after a masterful performance where they handled the pressure in their home event with composure.
The past weekend’s Rally Estonia kicked off the post-lockdown part of this year’s World Rally Championship with a fantastic 1-2 result for Hyundai in the first race since Rally Mexico in March.
“The first WRC event in Estonia was one that I had to win, while also knowing it would be my first with Hyundai Motorsport,” said Ott. “I couldn’t afford any mistakes, taking no risks but also performing with the required pace to win; bringing all of that together was a real challenge.”
Irish crew Craig Breen and Paul Nagle finished in second place in their Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC to score their debut podium for the team, and that special 1-2 feeling. As a result, Hyundai Motorsport has moved to within five points of the manufacturers’ championship lead and a bid to defend their WRC title.
“What an incredible weekend,” said Craig. “From the opening kilometres of the rally, everything just clicked. The car has done absolutely everything I’ve asked of it and has given me the confidence I needed.”
The result marked the third consecutive podium for Tänak and Järveoja, after second places in Sweden and Mexico, and lifted Tänak up to third place in the drivers’ championship table. “We had to use this chance to catch back points for the championship, and thankfully we were able to use it well,” he said.
Prang in stage
Sadly, it was a weekend to forget for Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul, who were forced to stop on Saturday after being pushed off-line in the Prangli stage. They then experienced a mechanical issue in the Kambja Power Stage, which forced them to retire on the road section.
“It has definitely not been our weekend,” said a dejected Neuville. “Our target today was to salvage some points from the Power Stage, but we had an issue ahead of the start, which meant we couldn’t drive at speed. Disappointing, but the next one will be better.”
Emotionally charged 1-2
Rally Estonia’s intense and challenging itinerary saw 17 stages run primarily across two days. All three of the Hyundai crews took stage wins on Saturday (three for Tänak and Järveoja, two for Breen/Nagle and one for Neuville/Gilsoul). It was a more cautious and measured final day, but one with a great result of our team.
Hyundai Motorsport team principal Andrea Adamo reflected on an emotional result: “After Mexico, we all faced a difficult period. Six months later, to be here in Estonia celebrating a 1-2 result, is an incredible feeling. I know how much I have pushed my people, while trying to remain calm in the face of the uncertain situation. I am proud of them all, and happy we can share this result.”
The 2020 WRC season continues its revised schedule with the gruelling gravel roads of Rally Turkey from 18 to 20 September – the fifth event of the season.
Final results – Rally Estonia
|1||O. Tänak / M. Järveoja (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)||1:59:53.6|
|2||C. Breen / P. Nagle (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)||+22.2|
|3||S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC)||+26.9|
|4||E. Evans / S. Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC)||+41.9|
|5||K. Rovanperä / J. Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC)||+1:18.7|
|6||T. Suninen / J. Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC)||+2:39.6|
|7||E. Lappi / J. Ferm (Ford Fiesta WRC)||+2:52.0|
|8||G. Greensmith / E. Edmondson (Ford Fiesta WRC)||+4:53.8|
|9||O. Solberg / A. Johnston (Volkswagen Polo R5)||+7:38.6|
|10||M. Østberg / T. Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5)||+8:17.3|
Championship for Manufacturers’ standings
|1||Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team||137|
|2||Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team||132|
|3||M-Sport Ford World Rally Team||83|
Championship for Drivers’ standings