What Estonian rally driver Ott Tänak decides to do next will likely be clear in the next couple of weeks, rally expert Rauno Paltser told ERR's Sport portal, following the end of the 2022 season at last weekend's Rally Japan.
Tänak and his co-driver and compatriot Martin Järveoja competed in their last race for Hyundai, a team which they joined in late 2019 on the back of winning that season's title for Toyota, in Nagoya over the weekend, finishing second, enough to seal Tänak as runner-up to Finn Kalle Rovanperä in the title race.
Palterser said the season finale had been: "Quite confusing, especially the first day of the race, when [Tänak teammate] Dani Sordo's car burnt out (Sordo and teammate Candido Carrera made it ok – ed.) and many speed tests were canceled as a result."
"The itinerary was constantly shifting. With the end of the season, I will, however, certainly remember Kalle Rovanperä becoming the youngest world champion of all time," Paltser went on.
Rovanperä started the rally season as he meant to continue, ie. very strongly, though Hyundai's drivers, including Tänak, closed the gap as the season went on. "[Rovanperä] secured the title only two races before [the season's end]. Whereas in the first half of the season it seemed that Kalle was unstoppable, in the second half , Hyundai with Ott Tänak and Martin [Järveoja] and [Thierry] Neuville took some strong steps towards Toyota," Paltser went on.
Ott Tänak won three times this season: in Sardinia, Belgium and in Finland, while, he earned five podium places overall. At the same time, the season was not without its problems for the Estonian, Paltser added. "There ended up being something wrong with the car all the time; the gear lever broke, the tires ruptured."
Tänak has not yet made a decision on the 2023 new season, which begins in just over two months' time in Monte Carlo, while at the time of writing he and Järveoja do not have a drive for next year, despite finishing second in the table, their best position since the championship-winning year of 2019.
"As Ott said, he does not have a contract lined up for next season. He will return home, let things settle for a couple of weeks and after that the developments should reach us. Two-to-three weeks of waiting here. While the door at Hyundai is closed now, Toyota and M-Sport Ford remain options," Paltser said.
Editor: Andrew Whyte