Saarbrucken, Germany: Estonia’s Ott Tanak is targeting the overall WRC lead after winning the Germany Rally on Sunday after fellow Ford Fiesta driver Sebastian Ogier took advantage of Thierry Neuville’s withdrawal to top the standings.
Tanak collected his second WRC victory, after winning the Italian Rally in June, with Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen in a Citroen C3 second.
The win lifted him third overall behind new leader Ogier, and second-placed Neuville of Hyundai with three rallies left.
“It’s a great feeling,” said the 29-year-old Tanak.
“The start to the rally went perfectly and after that it was just about controlling our lead.
“Winning our first tarmac event feels cool.
“With 25 points here I don’t see any reason why we can’t fight for the championship.
“We will keep fighting. We need to keep winning if we’re going to win the championship.”
After ten rounds, Ogier, third in Germany, leads with 177 points, Neuville, who crashed out in his Hyundai on Saturday with a mechanical failure, is second on 160 while Tanak is third on 144.
Ogier, a four-time world champion, arrived in Germany level on points with Neuville and knew a cautious approach would give him the overall lead.
“That was the most important thing and what we worked for all weekend,” said the French rally ace.
“It was not always easy — after Thierry wasn’t there I didn’t dare to push to the maximum.
“I missed some speed here, but it’s a good result for the championship,” he added with the battle for the 2017 title to resume on October 5 in Spain.
Rally of Germany:
1. Ott Tanak (EST/Ford Fiesta) 2hr 57 min 31.7 sec, 2. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR/Citroen C3) at 16.4 sec, 3. Sebastien Ogier (FRA/Ford Fiesta) 30.4, 4. Juho Hanninen (FIN/Toyota Yaris) 1:49.2, 5. Craig Breen (IRL/Citroen C3) 2:01.5, 6. Elfyn Evans (GBR/Ford Fiesta) 2:03.4, 7. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN/Toyota Yaris) 3:58.2, 8. Hayden Paddon (NZL/Hyundai i20) 4:32.4, 9. Armin Kremer (GER/Ford Fiesta) 10:19.4 (Premier WRC2), 10. Eric Camilli (FRA/Ford Fiesta R5) 10:44.3
Jan Kopecky (SS1), Dani Sordo (SS2, SS13, SS14, SS15, SS21), Ott Tanak (SS3, SS6, SS7, SS9, SS11), Andreas Mikkelsen (SS4, SS12), Thierry Neuville (SS5), Jari-Matti Latvala (SS8, SS17), Juho Hanninen (SS10, SS18), Sebastien Ogier (SS16), Esapekka Lappi (SS19), Craig Breen (SS20)
1. Sebastian Ogier (FRA) 177 points, 2. Thierry Neuville (BEL) 160, 3. Ott Tanak (EST) 144, 4. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) 123, 5. Dani Sordo (ESP) 89, 6. Elfyn Evans (GBR) 87, 7. Craig Breen (IRL) 64, 8. Juho Hanninen (FIN) 58, 9. Hayden Paddon (NZL) 55, 10. Esapekka Lappi (FIN) 49.
1. M-Sport (Ford) 325 pts, 2. Hyundai Motorsport 261, 3. Toyota Gazoo Racing 213, 4. Citroen Racing 183.