Ott Tänak ahead of Rally de Portugal: Title race starting to hot up
The 2023 World Rally Championship series continues next week in Portugal. Estonia's Ott Tänak (M-Sport Ford), currently holds fourth place in the driver's table after four stages, and says that he intends to take the fight to the challenging gravel tracks, starting with the race in the area around Porto next week.
"Let us now take on the season's gravel races, where things start to get a bit more serious in relation to the title fight," Tänak said via an M-Sport press release.
"We are still lagging in a few areas, but the team has been working very hard to find opportunities for improvement, while we still have a test coming up, in which we will go over the last details," the 2019 champion went on.
"We already saw in Mexico that our competitors are strong on the gravel, and we have things work on in getting better for the next stages Portugal is generally a fast stage, on some pretty sandy ground. Some of the other rounds can be tough and demanding, and we will try to close the gap with the fastest and stay in the title race," he continued.
The top three in the drivers table are all with Toyota – eight-time champion Sebastien Ogier (France) ties for first with Welshman Elfyn Evans, while the reigning champion, Finn Kalle Rovanperä, is next.
Tänak's fourth place so far is particularly impressive given the M-Sport team is not overflowing with bucks compared with Toyota and the other works team, Hyundai – Tänak's former team.
The first Hyundai man, Thierry Neuville (Belgium), lies in fifth place.
The series is also coming to terms with last month's tragic death in testing of Irish driver Craig Breen, ahead of Rally Croatia.
Another Estonian taking part in Rally de Portugal is WRC2 driver Robert Virves, who has been able to gain experience on that circuit already this season, racing in the European Rally Championship series.
Rally Portugal starts next Thursday, May 11, with the traditional shakedown run, and the stages proper follow from Friday morning.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Kristjan Kallaste