Ott Tänak out of top 10 in Rally Catalunya initial test

Ott Tänak is competing in the penultimate stage of the World Rally Championship 2022 season in Catalunya this weekend, though did not make the top ten in the opening speed test Thursday evening.

The rally is now run purely on asphalt roads, the third of the season, and as a result more importance relates to the correct line through bends and curves than would be the case on tracks; at the same time not all drivers maintain a perfect line by any stretch, which can bring stones, dust and other aggregate on to the road through the course of stages.

The weather, too, can be a factor, with wet weather quite common in Catalunya in autumn, making tire selection important.

WRC teams get 28 tires for the race weekend, including four for the test stage.

While Tänak has won 17 WRC races in his career so far and clinched his maiden, and so far only, drivers' title in Catalunya in 2019, he has not actually won at the event - moreover in 2020 the race was canceled due to the pandemic, and last year the Estonian pulled out ahead of the event.

He has finished on the podium twice, in 2019 and 2017.

Tänak said of the event: "I would say that the Catalunya Rally is the first real asphalt rally of the season, as there are very smooth roads that are also very quick."

"It's always difficult to find the right balance there, so we have to be very confident in the car," he added, via a Hyundai press release.

"I hope it will be a fun and enjoyable rally, but it is also quite important for us to be competitive and to score as many points as possible. We already ´demonstrated in Croatia and Belgium how good we can be on the asphalt, and we hope to continue at the same pace in Spain."

Tänak was the victor in Ypres/Ieper in Belgium this year.

Veteran driver and eight-time WRC champion Sebastien Ogier is starting at the race where he won in 2013, 2014 and 2016, while Tänak's teammate at Hyundai, Thierry Neuville, won last year and in 2019.

Another Estonian taking part in the race is Georg Linnamäe, competing in the second-tier WRC2 category in a VW Polo GTI R5. Linnamäe's co-driver is Briton James Morgan.

At Thursday's test, rain set in early, though dried up later.

Toyota, whose driver Kalle Rovanperä (Finland) clinched his first-ever WRC title in New Zealand earlier in th emonth, was dominant, with Ogier first with a time of 2.40.1, Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja over ten seconds behind with a time of 2.52.9.

Toyota's decision to go with soft tires proved the wiser choice as Hyundai went for the harder variety.

Toyota has all but won the manufacturers title over Hyundai and M-Sport Ford, with 84 points separating the Japanese manufacturer from the Korean, with just 104 points to play for in Catalunya and the season-closer in Japan in November.

Readers with Estonia can follow ERR Sport's live blog of events here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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