Ott Tänak quickest in morning at Otepää Winter Rally
Estonian rally ace Ott Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja (M-Sport) are in action at the Otepää Winter Rally on Saturday. The Estonian pair are competing on home soil this weekend in preparation for round two of this year's World Rally Championship (WRC), which takes place in Sweden next week.
Tänak and Järveoja, who are racing in a special Ford Puma test car, were quickest in this morning's first special stage at Kagavere. The pair finished in 7 minutes 42.5 seconds, with Georg Linnamäe and James Morgan (Hyundai i20 N Rally2) 14.9 seconds behind in second place.
Gregor Jeets and Timo Taniel (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) came third, 19.5 seconds after Tänak and Järveoja. The rest of the field finished over half a minute behind the stage winners.
In the second stage, at Pärsimäe, Tänak also won, with his lead over Linnamäe 18.1 seconds. Jeets was 29.3 seconds behind Tänak in third, just ahead of the team of Priit Koiki and Kristo Tamme (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5).
In the overall rally standings, Tänak's lead over Linnamäe increased to 33 seconds, with Jeets 48.8 seconds behind the leader in third.
The Otepää Winter Rally has eight stages, covering a total of 110.83 kilometers.
"This has been our first chance to test the car out on snow and ice. It feels like we have some things in place and our confidence is slowly growing," Tänak said in an M-Sport press release ahead of the rally.
"So, it's crucial to take part in this rally in Estonia to gain more experience in different conditions and find out how far we are from having the right set-up," he said.
Tänak and Järveoja joined M-Sport Ford late last year after leaving Hyundai. The pair won the WRC world championship in 2019 with Toyota.
More detailed information about the Otepää Winter Rally (in Estonian) is available from the event's Facebook page here.
WRC Rally Sweden is the second race of the 2023 calendar and gets underway on Thursday, February 9.
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Editor: Michael Cole