Q&A: Ott Tänak

Estonia’s top international rally driver will get a hero’s welcome when he contests his home round of the FIA European Rally Championship from 17-19 July.
As one of your country’s best drivers, how important is auto24 Rally Estonia to you?
“It’s a really big event in Estonia. I did this rally the last time in 2010 so I don’t have too much knowledge about the stages, but the roads will be really fun to drive so I can’t wait.”
How motivated are you to push for victory?
“Okay, it’s not part of my main programme for this season, but it can help us prepare for the next WRC 2 round in Finland. At the end of the day it’s a competition, and when you are competing you always try to do your best. If we can we will fight for the victory.”
What would winning your home round of the ERC mean to you?
“There will be lots of good emotions but it’s a very long event and you can’t win by just driving. You have to prepare well and work hard during the event. It won’t be easy because there are some really fast local drivers and also the good drivers from the ERC.”
How would you describe the characteristics of the stages in Estonia?
“They are mostly really fast, in fourth and fifth gear – mostly fifth gear in fact. There are also blind corners with jumps and crests. They are nice stages, really smooth with no rocks although they might be a bit soft for the second pass.”
 
Will road cleaning be a big factor?
“It’s difficult to say and we will need to have a good look during the recce. Sometimes it’s better to be first on the road because the stages are getting softer and it gets harder for the car when you start too far back. It will also depend on the weather because if you have damp conditions you will want to be more in the front.”
Do you get the chance to do a test before the rally?
“I plan to do a small test but nothing special. I’m driving with MM-Motorsport for this rally so I want to get a good feeling with the car because it’s a new car for me. But it’s a Ford Fiesta R5 on the same tyres I use in the WRC so everything should be okay.”
What do you make of all the quick young Estonian drivers – there are quite a few of you?
“When you have lots of good young drivers then you have a good future for the sport in your country. It also means there is good competition.”
And finally… what are the best things about Estonia?
“The first thing is you have internet everywhere! The nature is very nice too. I am from an island in Estonia so I am not near to the south where the rally is based but they are good people there.”
Photo: Andre Lavadinho