Reigning WRC world champion duo Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja took part in the non-championship Rally di Alba in Italy over the weekend, to prepare for the continuation of the WRC season in early-September, with Rally Estonia. The Estonians came in second after Hyundai teammates Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul.
Neuville dominated the rally, winning eight of the nine stages, with Tänak taking the second in the i20, losing out to Neuville by a total of 22.4 seconds. Hyundai completed a podium hat-trick, with Pierre-Louis Loubet taking third place in Italy.
Tänak said after the rally: "It's been a long break and I haven't driven this car on asphalt yet. It was important to be in a competitive situation. The engineers have pondered and have tried to think ahead. They have prepared quite a bit and the goal is to compete as much as possible to see how the upcoming season should be approached."
The WRC season will continue in Estonia with Rally Estonia held on September 4-6, in South Estonia. This will mark the return of the currently suspended WRC season, following the coronavirus pandemic, and will make Estonia the 33rd country to host a WRC round since the series started in 1973.
The round will span three days and will be held in traditional Rally Estonia regions in Tartu and Southern Estonia such as Kanepi, Kambja, Otepää and Elva.
Rally Estonia was an annual event and was seen as a potential full-calendar WRC event for several years before that became a reality.
The WRC has already canceled Rally de Portugal, Rally Kenya, Rally Finland, Rally New Zealand. Additionally, Rally of Argentina and Rally d'Italia have been postponed, leaving only the Turkish, German, Welsh, and Japanese rounds remaining on the schedule.
According to the International Automobile Federation (FIA), at least seven rounds of the season have to be completed to decide the title. Until the COVID-19 pandemic started, three rounds had been completed, which has led the association to look into alternative options.
France's Sebastien Ogier (Toyota) currently leads the series. Ott Tänak of Estonia (Hyundai) is reigning drivers' champion, having clinched the title in the penultimate race of the season in October last year - that season was also curtailed, though this time due to forest fires in New South Wales, Australia, venue of the final race.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste