M-Sport WRC team boss: Ott Tänak would be a costly hire

Ott Tänak signing an autograph for a fan.
Ott Tänak signing an autograph for a fan. Source: Hyundai Motorsport

Estonian rally star Ott Tänak would be an expensive hire for M-Sport Ford, one of three current manufacturers competing in the top level of the World Rally Championship, the team's boss says.

As reported by ERR News, Tänak is leaving Hyundai at the end of this season, and is currently without a seat for 2023.

Richard Millener, M-Sport team manager, told Finnish daily Iltalehti that: "Realistically, [hiring Ott] is quite an expensive option. It would certainly be nice if he were to join our team, but it is difficult to make it happen in reality."

M-Sport competes on a significantly smaller budget than Hyundai, or for that matter this season's winner, Toyota, both of whom are works teams.

"Would it be a wise decision for [Tänak] to join a team that cannot guarantee future prospects in the same way as a factory team can? Only he can answer that question," Millener went on.

"We still have time, but in any case, finding a sufficient budget would be a major challenge for us," he said.

The team has been struggling this season following a win at the season opener from veteran driver and nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, who guest-drove for the team several times this year, while, Italehti reports, Irishman Craig Breen has not met expectations as top driver, this season.

Tänak, who won the 2019 world championship with Toyota, immediately moving to Hyundai after that, said his decision to leave the South Korean manufacturers' team was a personal one which he had highly considered and did not diminish any respect he had for Hyundai as a team.

Tänak, 35 from Saaremaa, drove for M-Sport Ford a decade ago, joining Toyota in time for the 2018 season. His success is likely a major factor in Estonia attracting full WRC status for its national rally, starting in 2020.

Other up-and-coming Estonian drivers include Egon Kaur and Robert Virves.

This season is all but done with just one race left, in Japan starting in a week's time, while the drivers' title was decided in New Zealand in early October, when Toyota driver Kalle Rovanperä (Finland) picked up his maiden championship.

The WRC season does have a short turnaround time, however, as the calendar opener in Monaco usually takes place in January, though the 2023 calendar has yet to be announced.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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