Rally Estonia day three: Tänak on form, Rovanperä on track for debut win

Hyundai driver Pierre-Louis Loubet in action in day three of Rally Estonia 2021.
Hyundai driver Pierre-Louis Loubet in action in day three of Rally Estonia 2021. Source: Hyundai Motorsport

Despite winning six stages on Saturday, Estonian World Rally Championship driver Ott Tänak's poor luck on the Friday still means he is not even in the top 10 of the leaderboard at the end of day three of his home rally, though some clever tactical driving early on worked to the benefit of teammate Thierry Neuville.

None of the other Estonian drivers taking part, in the secondary categories, have had much joy in front of the home crowd either.

The race looks set to end up in Finn Kalle Rovanperä's (Toyota) maiden victory, going into the fourth and final day on the tracks of South Estonia.

Tänak, who won before his home crowd this time last year, was back in action Saturday after a puncture forced him to abandon the Hyundai i20 after coaxing it home to the finish line of stage two, before its return to the maintenance park for the rest of the day.

Tänak's teammates, Irishman Craig Breen and Belgian Thierry Neuville are in the second and third places as of the end of Saturday.

Rally Estonia 2021 driver rankings after day three. Source: EWRC-results.com

A certain amount of teamwork on the party of Hyundai, which led to Tänak starting after Sebstien Ogier (France, Toyota) rather than before – meaning he did not act as a 'track cleaner' for the seven-time and reigning world champion – and ahead of Neuville.

Tänak failed to start on time in a later attempt, where the ever-present dust had reduced visibility – again to Neuville's benefit, which reduced the gap between the Belgian and the Frenchman, currently in fifth place, to by 5.4 seconds, to 17.9 seconds.

After the morning's tactical driving, the Estonian went on to string together six stage wins in a row, until Neuville ended the streak on the penultimate stage of the day.

Going into day four, Rovanperä, 20, remains in the lead, with Breen 50.7 seconds behind.

This year's race is the second full-calendar WRC event and has been significantly extended in distance (to 314 km) and stage numbers (to 24). Close to 30,000 people have attended, with the coronavirus restrictions considerably more relaxed than during the inaugural event, while the weather has continued hot and sunny most of the time, as it has nationwide.

Of other Estonians taking part in the race, Egon Kaur was in position two in the WRC3 class, but had his day cut short by suspension failure, while Robert Virves, Priit Koik and Pranko Kõrgesaar, taking part in the lower categories, have all had their home race frustrated by interruptions.

Sunday brings the final day of the event, with six stages, ending mid-afternoon.

Rally Estonia itinerary with distances and start times: (completed stages in bold).


Practice Abissaare (6.23 km) 9.01
SS1 Tartu 1 (1.64 km) 20.38

SS2 Arula 1 (12,68 km) 9.40
SS3 Otepää 1 (17.05 km) 10.28
SS4 Kanepi 1 (16.54 km) 11.16
SS5 Kambja 1 (17.85 km) 12.08
SS6 Arula 2 (12.68 km) 15.34
SS7 Otepää 2 (17.05 km) 16.22
SS8 Kanepi 2 (16.54 km) 17.10
SS9 Kambja 2 (17.85 km) 18.08

SS10 Peipsiääre 1 (23.53 km) 8.06
SS11 Mustvee 1 (12.28 km) 9.08
SS12 Raanitsa 1 (22.76 km) 10.36
SS13 Vastsemõisa 1 (6.70 km) 11.39
SS14 Peipsiääre 2  (23.53 km) 15.06
SS15 Mustvee 2 (12.28 km) 16.08
SS16 Raanitsa 1 (22.76 km) 17.34
SS17 Vastsemõisa 2 (6.70 km) 18.37
SS18 Tartu 2 (1.64 km) 20.08

SS19 Neeruti 1 (7.82 km) 7.21
SS20 Elva 1 (11.72 km) 8.09
SS21 Tartu vald 1 (6.51 km) 9.08
SS22 Neeruti 2 (7.82 km) 11.41
SS23 Elva 2 (11.72 km) 12.29
SS24 Tartu vald 2 (6.51 km) 14.18


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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