Ott Tänak won in front of a home crowd in the South Estonia Rally held on Sunday. The event, staged in Võru County, is effectively a warm-up for the inaugural WRC Rally Estonia and featured most of the top drivers from that series.
Tänak, in the Hyundai i20, together with co-driver and fellow Estonian Martin Järveoja, won the eight-stage event with an overall time of 48.28.2.
Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota) was second, 13.7 seconds behind the winners, followed by his teammate, six-time WRC champion Sebastien Ogier of France, who was 29.0 seconds behind Tänak.
Finn Esapekka Lappi (Ford) was fourth (+1.46.8), and Tänak's teammate at Hyundai Belgian Thierry Neuville was fifth (+48.6 plus time penalty bringing things to 2.18.6.
Tänak was fastest in seven of the eight tests.
Following his victory, Tänak, 32, from Saaremaa, who clinched the 2019 title with one race to spare last October, said that he has improved with Hyundai and hopes to take the race to his former team, Toyota, in two weeks' time.
"Certainly the South Estonian Rally was a place for us to compare how speeds felt next to our competitors. It gave us the opportunity and we tried to do so," Tänak said, adding that Rally Estonia, in previous years not a full WRC event and a warm-up for Rally Finland.
Tänak, who had last driver the South Estonia course over 10 years ago, also noted that despite opposition towards the South Estonia rally from Rally Estonia organizers, a lot of effort had been put into the event, which attracted several top drivers.
Rally Estonia, marking a return for the WRC series after a several-month hiatus as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, takes place September 4-6.
Editor: Andrew Whyte