Ott Tänak says he has high expectations for the 2021 season, ahead of the second race in the calendar in northern Finland, adding he is gunning for a second WRC driver's title to add to the 2019 one he already has in the trophy cabinet, American Rally site Dirtfish reports, in so doing taking the fight to his former team, Toyota.
"Definitely, my expectations this year are a lot higher than last year," Tänak told DirtFish, adding that 2021 was not a year for learning any more.
Tänak, 33, from Saaremaa, won his maiden title, together with co-driver Martin Järveoja, the year before last, with Toyota, but was confirmed for Hyundai soon after – a team which has been dominant since then and for whom Sebastien Ogier won the 2020, and his seventh, title, in a coronavirus-blighted season.
Hyundai, which also boats ever-the-bridesmaid Thierry Neuville of Belgium, and Spainsh driver Danni Sordo, in its stable, is 22 points behind Toyota after just one race, in the manufacturer's championship, following all three of the latter's drivers not taking first and second place, but also making a clean sweep of the power stage, which due to a rules change now awards points to manufacturers, while Tänak is 30 points behind series leader Sebastien Ogier.
The season opener last month in Monte Carlo was not a good one – out after a double puncture despite leading the early stages of the event on day one – at a race which also saw him crash out on day two last season.
Team boss Andrea Adam also expressed his dismay at the result in the season opener, Dirtfish reports, adding that more needs to be done.
The next race is the Arctic Rally in Rovaniemi, Lapland, the first of two events to be held in Finland this season. Rally Estonia, which last year saw its debut fully calendar WRC status confirmed, and which was won by the local hero, is to return to the calendar this season too, on the South Estonian course, July 15-18.
The rest of the calendar looks like this:
- February 26-28: Arctic Rally (Lapland)
- April 22-25: Croatia Rally
- May 20-23: Rally de Portugal
- June 3-6: Rally Italia Sardegna
- June 24-27: Safari Rally Kenya
- July 15-18: Rally Estonia
- July 29-August 1: Rally Finland
- August 13-15: Ypres Rally Belgium
- September 9-12: Rally Chile
- October 14-17: RACC Rally Catalunya de España
- November 11-14: Rally Japan
Of these, the rallies in Chile, Finland, Portugal and Catalunya are back after a one-year absence, Rally Croatia is making its debut (replacing Rally Mexico), as is the Arctic Rally in Lapland (replacing Rally Sweden, the traditional winter event) and Rally Kenya and Japan are back after long absences. Rally Deutschland and Rally Wales GB are off the calendar this year, while several provisional races, including one in Latvia, are on standby in case coronavirus conditions provoke cancellations, as they did last year.
Editor: Andrew Whyte