Ott Tänak to race before Estonian crowd at Otepää rally next month
Estonian rally driver Ott Tänak is to take part in the Otepää winter rally in South Estonia early next month. The event forms part of the domestic rally championship, and Tänak will use the Ford Puma he races for M-Sport Ford, in the World Rally Championship (WRC) series.
"I am happy to announce that the Ford Puma Rally1 is coming to Estonia, as we are going to participate at Otepää Winter Rally on February 4. See you there guys!" Tänak tweeted.
The race will constitute a warmer for the next WRC race, the second of the season, in Sweden, starting February 9.
The recent mild weather should not harm the chances of a good event, organizers say.
Race organizer Marko Koosa said: "Every day, the road conditions around Otepää are getting more and more wintry, and it is snowing at the moment. The road surfaces are frozen beautifully, and we hope for a great winter rally."
I am happy to announce that the Ford Puma Rally1 is coming to Estonia as we are going to participate at Otepää Winter Rally on the 4th of February. See you there guys! #OtepaaTalveralli #FordPumaRally1 #MSPORTERS #goOtt #TanakFanArmy #rallying #OttTanak #MartinJarveoja pic.twitter.com/dy9VQpgqB1— Ott Tänak (@OttTanak) January 24, 2023
"The team is delighted that Ott and [co-driver] Martin [Järveoja] have opted to prepare for the Swedish WRC event on Otepää's roads, and bring to Estonian rally friends the Ford Puma Rally1 car, as prepared by the M-Sport team," Koosa added.
The rally forms part of a change to the opening stages of the 2023 Terminal Oil Eesti Autoralli championship, as the event scheduled for Aluksne, Latvia, which would have been the opening event last weekend, was postponed to later in in February, due to unsuitable weather conditions.
Forty-nine rally pairs have signed up to the Otepää event, while registration is open until Friday.
Ott Tänak took part in the event two seasons ago when he was at Hyundai, and won, beating then-teammate Thierry Neuville, who finished 33.4 seconds behind the Estonian, in second place.
The race comprises eight stages, totaling 110.38km in length, with the first starting at 8.03 a.m. on Saturday, February 4.
More detailed information (in Estonian) is available from the event's Facebook page here.
Tänak and Järveoja joined M-Sport Ford late last year, ending speculcation they would be without WRC seats for 2023 after leaving Hyundai. They won the WRC world championship in 2019 with Toyota, then moved to Hyundai, where they sometimes struggled, though put together a total of five wins, one of them in the Covid-shortened 2020 season, and three last year – the most successful season with the team.
WRC Rally Sweden is the second race of the 2023 calendar and starts Thursday, February 9.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte