While WRC team Hyundai has made great progress compared with its competitors through the 2022 season, there is still a lot of room for improvement, Estonian rally star Ott Tänak says, ahead of next weekend's Rally Catalunya and at a time of great speculation over his future with the team and in the sport.
While Tänak's teammate Thierry Neuville has recently had more to say on the Estonian's future than Tänak himself has, the latter recently told betting company Betsafe (link in Estonian) that a recent test was: The last test for this year's competitions," as: "It is not permitted to test for competitions held outside Europe."
Areas where improvement is needed in Tänak's estimation include the i20's performance in changeable conditions.
The rally: "Has traditionally been a pure asphalt race, and I believe that it should remain this way."
The roads here are the best asphalt roads you can find in the world and should be used to the maximum," he added.
In previous years, Rally Catalunya was a mixed race that started on gravel and finished on asphalt, but last year it was held only on asphalt for the first time in many years.
Tänak has yet to win in Catalunya, though it was the race in the 2019 calendar at which he was confirmed world champion for that year, with Toyota.
Rallies taking place on different surfaces present a challenge, he added, and also concurred with teammate Thierry Neuville's recent statement that the car is not competitive in the wet.
"In Spain, only pure speed counts, and at the same time, it is a rally where the car must perform well," he noted.
"As a driver, it is difficult here to compensate for the car's capabilities or shortcomings only by driving."
The car has nonetheless improved in the second half of the year, Tänak, who won back-to-back victories in Finland and Belgium in August, added.
Rally Catalunya starts with the traditional test on Thursday, October 20, with the first stage to be run on the morning of Friday, October 21, and the final stages on the Sunday.
Nothing major hinges on either this event or on the season-closing Rally Japan next month, since Finn Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota) won his first ever drivers' title in New Zealand at the start of the month.
Tänak currently lies in second place in the table, 29 points ahead of Neuville.
There are only three teams competing at the pinnacle of WRC following Citroen's withdrawal in 2019 – along with Hyundai, M-Sport Ford and Toyota.
Editor: Andrew Whyte