Ott Tänak makes the podium at WRC Central European Rally

Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja taking part in the Central Europe Rally.
Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja taking part in the Central Europe Rally. Source: M-Sport Media

Ott Tänak finished third in the inaugural Central European Rally on Sunday, the penultimate round of the 2023, which also confirmed this year's driver's champion.

Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) of Belgium won the race, held on asphalt on routes in the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany, which started Wednesday and which saw many stages take place after darkness had fallen.

However, it was Kalle Rovanperä's (Toyota) second place which grabbed much of the attention, as it means he is now world champion, for the second time, after winning his first title last year.

Tänak had dropped down to fourth at the end of Saturday's stages but pulled back to get a podium position in his second-to-last race with M-Sport Ford, before rejoining Hyundai next season.

Veteran driver and eight-time champion Sebastien Ogier was fourth for Toyota after winning two stages on the Sunday.

Elfyn Evans (Wales), the only driver who could challenge his teammate, Rovanperä, for the title, crashed out on stage 11, while the Finn conceded that his main aim thereafter was simply to cross the finish line.

Final placings at this year's Central European Rally Source: WRC

Evans came back into the race on Sunday and even won two stages, but it was not enough to pull back into title contention.

In other categories, Estonian Georg Linnamäe (Hyundai) had been in 10th place in the second-tier WRC2 section, but had to drop out after stage 16.

The season ends with Rovanperä crowned champion with 235 points, though it it still in theory all to play for with the runner's up position. Evans is second on 191points, Neuville third (184) and Tänak fourth (162 points).

Toyota is confirmed manufacturers' title winner.

Tänak won his sole WRC title in 2019 with Toyota, and went on to join Hyundai for 2020-2022. He will return to the team for next season, together with co-driver Martin Järveoja.

The final race of the season starts on November 16, in Japan.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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