Ott Tänak's (M-Sport) hopes of winning this year's Rally Estonia were seemingly dashed even before the opening stage, when his team was forced to change his car's engine due to technical problems. As a result, the Estonian was handed a five-minute time penalty.
Tänak made a strong start to testing on Thursday, however, at the finish, his disappointment was clear as he referred to technical issues in a live interview broadcast by the WRC.
M-Sport chief Richard Millener later confirmed to the Estonian media that Tänak had experienced engine problems in testing. The driver's Ford was then transported back to the service park and the 2019 WRC champion was not seen on track again for the test.
In the maintenance park, Tänak's team was forced to change his engine, meaning the Estonian was handed a five-minute time penalty.
World championship leader Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota) was fastest in the shakedown (1m 58.8 seconds), 1.2 seconds ahead of Belgium's Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) and 1.7 in front of fellow Finn Esapekka Lappi (Hyundai).
Despite the disappointment, Tänak was quickest in the short opening stage of the rally on Thursday evening, finishing 0.6 seconds ahead of both Lappi (Toyota) and Welshman Elfyn Evans (Hyundai) in joint second.
"I don't have much to say. The longer the day goes on, the more painful it is. It gets more and more painful. Our chances of fighting for the world championship title were pretty slim, we were concentrating on the rally here and the rally in Finland. That [five-minute time loss] was a pretty big blow," Tänak said.
Editor: Michael Cole