Finnish Rally driver manager Timo Jouhki says that he thinks Estonian driver Ott Tänak should renew his contract with Toyota Gazoo Racing after this season finishes, and is the fastest driver on the WRC circuit at present, ERR's sports portal reports.
Jouhki said that the joke at the recent German rally was that should Tänak, currently leading the WRC driver's championship with four races to go, leave Toyota when his current contract expires at the end of this season, team boss Tommi Mäkinen might as well choose his successor via game of paper-stone-scissors.
"Since [Belgian driver Thierry] Neuville and [French reigning world champion Sebastien] Ogier have contracts, Tänak has the initiative. Before he acts, he won't need to negotiate with others. The rest of the drivers are a level playing field, and their position hugely depends on a team bosses' preferences and likes," Jouhki said.
Despite any problems with the Toyota, Tänak should stay on after this season, Jouhki said.
"It's clear that Tänak should continue at Toyota. He's been there two years, knows the car inside and out, the people, the way of working. Toyota is not probably the fastest in the WRC, it is simply the fastest," he continued.
However, Tänak's salary should match this performance, and that of Ogier, who has won the world title six times, back-to-back.
"I don't know how much Tänak's manager, [fellow Estonian] Markko Märtin, negotiated for him, but he is the fastest man in the series at the moment. He is much more stable than Ogier," said Jouhki.
Tänak is 32 points ahead of second-placer and last year's runner up Thierry Neuville, and 40 points clear of Ogier. With four races to go, starting with Turkey the weekend after next, 100 points are up for grabs. Tänak has won five races this year, in Sweden, Chile, Portugal, Finland and Germany, getting maximum points at three of them.
Timo Jouhki has managed Finnish rally legends Juha Kankunen and Tommi Mäkinen, amongst others, and as well as current WRC driver Jari-Matti Latvala , among others.
Editor: Andrew Whyte