Estonian rallying will emerge from the darkness of lockdown with the sound and fury of a pair of Hyundai i20 Coupe WRCs at Rally DirtFish – with Ott Tänak and Thierry Neuville entering the August 7-8 event.
Defending World Rally champion team Hyundai Motorsport will send three cars, with Jari Huttunen driving the team’s development i20 R5 alongside Tänak and Neuville.
Local hero Tänak is delighted with the news of his return to competition.
“When you don’t drive a car like the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC for a long time, you miss it like hell,” said Tänak. “It’s a little bit like missing your best friend.
“This time since Rally México has been tough. The chance to go back to work at Rally DirtFish is really a nice thought for me. I’m looking forward to driving again in competition and, of course, I’m looking forward to driving in Rally DirtFish.
“Having Thierry there is, as well, fantastic. It makes it feel like the real rally and real competition. But it’s also very good for the fans at home as well. The organizers are working hard to find a way to make sure the fans can be part of the show in this all-new situation.”
Hyundai Motorsport director Andrea Adamo will be present in Otepää for the rally, determined to help put world rallying’s show back on the road.
“I saw when I was in Estonia last year, there is so much passion for this sport of ours,” said Adamo. “Really, Estonia is an incredible country with so many fans.
“I understand Rally DirtFish is working to find a way to give some spectators the chance to watch this rally under the COVID restrictions and I’m happy for that.”
Much as he appreciated the talk of entertaining people, Adamo added that Tänak and Neuville would be in town with a very specific job to do.
“We have seen on this kind of surface and this nature of rally, sometimes we have struggled a little bit in the past,” he said.
“With two cars here, for sure, we can collect more data and more data in the good [competitive] environment of a rally. This is really a good opportunity for us.
“I have to say a big thank you to Rally DirtFish as well – changing the date to August has helped me because I want to go to Rally di Roma and to Estonia as well and now this is possible!
“One thing is sure with this world: we cannot stand still and just hope. We have to stand up and push to make things happen, that’s what we do now.
“We have complete respect for all the work the Rally DirtFish team is doing with respect to the coronavirus preparations and, of course, we do all we can to help with this.”
Eight years on from his last Estonian outing, Neuville is looking forward to returning for Rally DirtFish.
This year’s Monte Carlo Rally winner said: “When you go to Finland, sometimes it feels like you are in Estonia… I think this shows how much the Estonians love the sport and their favourite driver!
“I look forward to going there again, it will be nice to see this rally and the really fast roads again.”