Ott Tänak: I need to consider whether to continue with my WRC career
Estonian rally star Ott Tänak has hinted that this year's World Rally Championship season may be his last. The 2019 world champion is currently in second place in the drivers' table going into Rally New Zealand.
Speaking to French portal Autohebdo (link in French), Tänak said: "I haven't decided anything yet."
"I do have a valid contract [with current team Hyundai], but the question is not only with which team I will continue. In addition, I have to consider whether I want to continue my career at all. I have no pressure on making this choice, and perhaps I don't know yet when I will make my decision," he added.
Tänak won the 2019 world championship with Toyota, then went on to drive for Hyundai. While the Covid-blighted 2020 and 2021 seasons saw the Estonian, 34, from Saaremaa, finish third and fifth respectively and win two races, both the arrival of a full WRC event in his home country, which provided one of the two victories (in 2020), and the 2022 season, in which he has won three races so far, in Sardinia, Finland and Belgium, have been bright spots.
There has only been one other team competing at senior WRC-level in recent years after Citroen pulled out at the end of 2019, namely M-Sport Ford, which Tänak drove for a decade ago.
Tänak also addressed personal and family issues in his interview with Autohebdo, saying that any potential decision to be made: "Is not related to my results this season. First of all, I want to see how the situation with my family will turn out at the end of the year, then I will make a choice on whether I will stay to support my wife, or continue my career."
Tänak and his compatriot and co-driver Martin Järveoja pulled out of the final stage last season, held at Monza, Italy, citing personal reasons, and also said after his Rally Finland victory this season that he owed all his success to his wife, for whom he also expressed love and affection in the same interview.
Tänak had been skeptical of the new hybrid regulations introduced for the Hyundai i20, and all competing teams and cars, ahead of this season.
The New Zealand Rally is already getting underway at the time of writing and runs through to the small hours of Sunday morning, Estonian time.
Two more races remain for 2022, in Catalunya and in Japan, while Tänak lies 54 points behind table-leader Kalle Rovanperä (Finland, Toyota), looking for his maiden WRC title win. A race win accrues 25 points, with the chance of bagging five more in the power stage.
Tänak won his first WRC drivers' title in 2019, clinching the crown with one race left to go in the season (at that time - in the event, Rally Australia was cancelled that year due to bush fires).
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Editor: Andrew Whyte