Ott Tänak finished second in the season-closing WRC Rally Japan on Sunday, also cementing his second place in the overall drivers' table in what looks set to be his last full season for the meantime.
Tänak finished second behind teammate Thierry Neuville (Belgium), by a minute and 11 seconds, while, racing before a home crowd, Toyota's Takamoto Katsuta came third.
Tänak had already confirmed he would not be returning with Hyundai in the 2023 season, nor would he be driving for either of the other two WRC teams – Toyota and M-Sport Ford – meaning he is without a seat next year, as things stand.
Kalle Rovanperä (Finland) was confirmed world champion a month-and-a-half ago in New Zealand, meaning there was nothing significant to drive for in Nagoya.
Tänak nonetheless finished sixth in the initial speed stage Thursday, building on that to be in third place by the end of the penultimate day Saturday.
Neuville, Tänak and Katsuta were also the only three who finished the race, held on asphalt, without any major issues – for instance Rovanperä hit a rocky outcrop on Saturday and pulled out, while Dani Sordo (Spain, Hyundai), Sebastien Ogier (France, Toyota), Cragi Breen (Ireland, M-Sport Ford) and Gus Greensmith (England, M-Sport Ford) all were forced to drop out on the Friday.
Meanwhile, Tänak closed the gap on, and overtook, Welshman Elfyn Evans (Toyota) after the latter had to change tires during the second stage Sunday; Hyundai started the day's events on wet tires and capitalized on this as a result.
Thus Tänak, 35, from Saaremaa, and the 2019 world champion, finished runner-up in 2022, an improvement on the 2020 and 2021 seasons, where he finished third and fifth respectively. The WRC seasons have a short turnaround; teams will be in action in Monte Carlo in a little over two months' time, though as noted likely without the Estonian.
The race also saw the second-tier WRC2 drivers' title decided, which went to Emil Lindholm (Finland, Toksport), while Gregoire Munster (Luxembourg, Hyundai Rally 2) won the category on race day.
Editor: Andrew Whyte