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SPORTS

Estonian speedster Tanak says he is ready for tough Safari Rally

UNIQUE SPORTS By Ochieng Oyugi | June 13th 2021
Estonian driver Ott Tanak in past action. He is among top drivers who compete in the Safari Rally. [WRC.COM]

Estonian speedster Ott Tänak says he will keep his eyes wide open during the WRC Safari Rally in Naivasha on June 24-27.

This is meant to avoid mistakes that have cost him victory in the last two legs of the WRC series in Italy and Portugal.

“We will go at the Safari, we will do our best and of course I will try extra hard to keep my eyes open, but I can’t think too much about it.  It’s something I can’t really change," he told dirtfish.com.

Last weekend, Tänak was leading in Sardinia, Italy by 40.5 seconds after stage 11 before he ran over a rock in the racing line on SS12 and immediately had to slow as the rear-left wheel on his Hyundai was working itself loose.

It followed a remarkably similar scenario in Portugal where Tänak had been leading by over 20s before his suspension broke without him hitting anything obvious.

Tanak has however refused to get frustrated by what happened.

“The positive part is that the team has been really behind me, and for sure I’ve been trying to get the things out of the car but at the same time they’ve been supporting me with this,” Tänak added.

Ott-Tanak [PHOTO COURTESY]

“The general support is big, and this is also now showing in the results. We are still behind but at least the car starts to behave like I wish and for sure this is giving us some extra performance.”

The disastrous weekend outing now leaves him 57 points behind leader Sébastien Ogier – who went on to win in Sardinia.

“I can’t think too much” about the suspension failures. “It’s something we can’t change,” he said.

Asked if he was driving too fast given his lead and that could’ve potentially led to an issue, Tänak said the rock “in a blind spot” and “was definitely difficult to avoid”.

Particularly given what happened in Portugal, service park speculation is rife that the Hyundai is too fragile.

But Tänak’s team-mate Thierry Neuville doesn’t think any of the cars could resist the size of the stone Tänak hit.

“It’s true maybe we struggle a bit more than Toyota in small damages in Sardinia, maybe this is something to work on,” said Neuville.

Asked if he felt the Hyundai was too fragile, Tänak said: “Maybe if it comes together for the car to be fast it starts to be a bit fragile. It’s a bit so and so, always like this,” he added. “I’ve been there before, I’ve seen it here before and also in previous teams, at some moment it comes together.

“It’s down to the engineering. I’m just a piece between the seat and the steering wheel. Yeah, let’s see, they are definitely working. We know in these conditions the car is fast but there are some buts. “I’m sure we will get over it," Tänak said.

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