M-Sport “car and me, a mismatch” in WRC Mexico

The Rally Sweden winner endured an eventful rally as he recovered to finish ninth after losing 12 minutes to turbo failure on Friday while earning four extra championship points on the Power Stage.

Tanak had started the rally by winning the two Super Special stages on Thursday night before drama ensued on stage three. The 2019 world champion, who also had the disadvantage of starting first on the road, then struggled with a mysterious problem with his Puma that appeared to be affecting his pace.

Although Tanak described driving the Puma as “unnatural,” he was able to muster enough speed to claim four stage wins. His probably most impressive performance was on the Power Stage, where he clocked the second-fastest time behind rally winner Sebastien Ogier.

The Estonian eventually slipped to fourth place in the championship standings, nine points behind leader Ogier.

“I’m happy to cross the finish line, we couldn’t have taken anything more from here,” said Tanak, who joined M-Sport from Hyundai in the winter.

“Nevertheless, it’s positive to take at least a few points because on Friday it didn’t look like we could score any points.

“The car [performance] is there, it has always been there. Just me and the car are a bit mismatched which is difficult but let’s see what we can achieve in the next few weeks.

“As I said, the car is there and the car is competitive in other hands, but that’s not something I can take for granted.”

Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

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Photo by: M-Sport

However, M-Sport Team Principal Richard Millener was impressed with Tanak’s performance in salvaging crucial championship points.

“On paper, this weekend’s results are disappointing for us, there’s no doubt about that,” said Millener.

“I have to say I’m incredibly proud of what the team did to reverse Ott’s result. It no longer looked like retirement but continued and went beyond what we thought possible on duty on Friday.

“That team spirit helped us get Ott back in the top ten and in a position strong enough to earn Power Stage points.

“Ott drove really well too. He drove another clean rally without making any mistakes and that showed on the Power Stage – our championship position is still pretty solid.”

Tanak appears ready to bolster his preparations for April’s WRC visit to Croatia by tackling the Rally Ardennes round of the Belgian national championship from March 31st to April 1st.

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