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Tänak dominates Rally Estonia Saturday stages

Tänak and Järveoja in the Toyota Yaris at Rally Estonia Saturday. The event is a precursor for possible full WRC calendar status in a few years.
Tänak and Järveoja in the Toyota Yaris at Rally Estonia Saturday. The event is a precursor for possible full WRC calendar status in a few years. Source: Karli Saul/Scanpix

Estonian driver Ott Tänak has dominated his home rally so far, winning seven out of nine speed tests on Saturday, taking him into the lead as Rally Estonia enters its final day.

Racing his Toyota Yaris at the WRC promotional event, which takes in courses in between Tartu and Otepää in South Estonia and is a precursor to potential full-calendar WRC status from 2022, Tänak was close to 20 seconds ahead of the pack after the first two stages.

Welshman Elfyn Evans, who had been quickest in Friday mornings in his Ford Fiesta, had a bad landing following one of WRC's trademark jumps, on the second run, which cost him 45 seconds, and local driver Georg Gross (Ford Fiesta) was out for the rest of the day after coming to grief at the same spot.

In fact, the "other" local hero, veteran driver and former full-time WRCer Markko Märtin, was critical of the abundance of jumps stages had to offer, calling it "stupid", though careful to praise the entire event. Martin and co-driver Kristo Kraag (Ford Fiesta) lay in seventh pace overnight.

As well as Tänak, who currently heads the WRC table, and Evans, in fourth place, several other WRC racers took part, including Esapekka Lappi of Finland, in the Citroën C3, Craig Breen (Ireland, Hyundai i20 coupe) and Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway, Hyundai).

WRC second and third placed men, title-holder Sébastien Ogier of France, and Thierry Neuville (Belgium), are not participating.

Close to half the 106 pairs entering the event are Estonians.

Leader board in the EMV1 class, ahead of Sunday's racing:

1. Ott Tänak – Martin Järveoja (Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT).

2. Andreas Mikkelsen – Anders Jaeger-Amland (Hyundai Motorsport N) +33.4 secs.

3. Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm (Citroën Total WRT) +46.3 secs.

4. Elfyn Evans – Scott Martin (M-Sport Ford World Rally Team) +1 min 9.02 secs.

5. Craig Breen – Paul Nagle (Hyundai Motorsport N) +1 min 12.7 secs.

6. Oliver Solberg – Aaron Johnston (Sports Racing Technologies) +2 mins 9.3 secs.

The 17-year-old Norwegian, Solberg, is not competing in the WRC class, but drives his VW Polo in the R5 class, which he leads over over another local driver, Rainer Aus, driving a Skoda Fabia, and two Finns, Eerk Pietarinen (also Skoda) and Seemu Suninen (Ford Fiesta), going into Sunday.

ERR's sports portal is liveblogging Sunday's stages (in Estonian) here.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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