Ott Tänak’s asphalt debut aboard a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC was about two steps backwards before one good step forwards.
By the end of Rally di Alba, the reigning World Rally champion was a happy man.
Tänak cared not a jot about missing out on the win to his team-mate Thierry Neuville.
What was important was the data logged, the knowledge gained. Watching the pair of them talking between stages, it’s immediately clear, the way they are working together really is as strong as Hyundai team principal Andrea Adamo says it is.
Most of the time we made the wrong decision, but these experiences teach the mostOtt Tänak
For the second and third loops of stages in Italy on Sunday, the gearbox was swapped from one car to the other.
“We wanted to get the feedback and the experience,” explained Adamo.
“It worked well. If you ask me what was the difference in the transmission, I’ll tell you that I was once an engineer – but now all I can tell you about is the price of the gearbox!”
Tänak admitted he’d taken the set-up in the wrong direction for the first two loops, adding: “I’m pretty confident we found some very good things. The last loop felt really good.
“We changed many things and we were trying to go through everything we had [in terms of set-up options] – we had an idea in mind what we wanted.
“Most of the time we made the wrong decision, but these experiences, they teach the most and they were the good lessons and I’m sure we have a lot more data to go through.
“I must say the car feels good on Tarmac. This was all about experience and learning, we went the wrong way probably with the set-up but as it is all about learning it was worth doing it.”
Asked if his set-up had compromised his pace, Tänak replied: “I was not able to go to the limit, but it was OK. Today was about learning.
“The championship is going to be tight and we don’t have too many opportunities.
“We definitely need to be ready when it comes and rallies like this one will help. The whole event – with me and Thierry driving and all the other drivers – it was a lot of fun.
“We definitely experienced a lot and this is a big boost going forward.”