As the 2020 WRC proceedings restarted in Estonia, local hero & defending champion Ott Tanak cashed in on the home advantage to register his first victory with Hyundai and of the season.
The 2020 WRC season is finally back on track after a gap of many months as competitors took on completely new stages of Estonia for the first time. And things could not have turned out any better for homeboy Ott Tanak as he dominated the round right from SS3 on Saturday till the finish line to claim his first victory of the season. This was also his first win with the Alzenau-based race outfit, Hyundai Motorsport.
Tanak finished the final Wolf Power Stage (SS17) on Sunday with a comfortable lead of 22.2 seconds over his teammate Craig Breen. Behind Breen, the remaining three Toyota Gazoo Racing cars of Sebastien Ogier (behind Breen by only 4.7 seconds), Elfyn Evans & Kalle Rovanperä crossed the finish line in third, fourth & fifth, respectively.
Both Hyundai drivers held the top two spots overnight and simply had to maintain their positions on the final day and avoid any goof-ups. Despite Toyota winning all the six individual stages on Sunday (one by Evans, two by Ogier & three, including the final Power Stage, by Rovanperä) the proceedings went largely error-free for the Hyundai duo, barring a late scare for Tanak as he nearly spun out in his WRC i20.
Things for the third Hyundai driver, Thierry Neuville, did not go as planned at all. He lost out big time on his Estonian adventure as he crashed out on Saturday. While he managed to restart and aimed to go all-out in the Power Stage, disaster struck twice as an electronic failure saw him limp across the finish. Toyota's fourth car, piloted by Takamoto Katsuta, also crashed out on the final day.
Scoring three bonus points for securing the third spot in the Wolf Power Stage, Tanak took home a total of 28 points (25+3) after Rally Estonia and is now a contender for this year's title. He's now only 13 points behind Toyota's Sebastien Ogier, the latter sitting on top of the leaderboard with 79 points. Thanks to his victory in Rally Sweden, Evans is placed second on the leaderboard with 70 points. Despite a second consecutive no-points finish, Neuville has managed to hold on to the fifth spot (42 points), right behind Kalle Rovanperä (55 points).
After a recent change in the revised 2020 WRC calendar, there are only three more rounds left to go this year. After Estonia, the proceedings will move to Turkey in the latter half of the month, followed by Italy in October and finally, to Belgium in November.