Tänak sympathetic towards Toyota’s poor tire call

M-Sport got its tire call just right on Saturday morning, but Ott Tänak sees what led Toyota to go a different way


Rally Chile leader Ott Tänak can understand why Toyota made its incorrect tire call which World Rally champion Kalle Rovanperä felt was too optimistic.

All three Toyota drivers lost shedloads of time on the final stage of Saturday morning as their decision not to take any hard compound Pirellis backfired.

Both Katsuta and Evans suffered rear punctures, while Rovaperä backed off to avoid such a fate but still dropped time as a result of a conservative drive.

Tänak and M-Sport meanwhile got their tire call spot on; carrying four hards and two softs which allowed the 2019 world champion to grow his lead from 4.2 to 47.8 second


Saturday morning tire choices

Driver Soft Hard
Rovanperä 5 N/A
Evans 6 N/A
Katsuta 5 N/A
Neuville 3 3
Suninen 3 2
Tänak 2 4
Munster 2 4
Heller 4 2

While it worked out for Tänak, he can fully understand how Toyota got it wrong as he felt the unfamiliar stages and conditions made any tire decision “just about guessing”.

Tänak told DirtFish: “I was not even sure that taking the two softs was a good decision, but when I saw others’ decisions obviously I thought that somebody needs to be wrong.

“I mean in this situation it’s just about guessing, you don’t know anything, you have no previous experience. This temperature, this road surface, never driven on them so you have no idea.”

I was not even sure that taking the two softs was a good decision, but when I saw others' decisions obviously I thought that somebody needs to be wrong Ott Tänak

The situation was compounded by the need for teams and drivers to choose their tires the previous evening, with no morning service on gravel rallies.

Asked if he doubted his own choice, Tänak said: “You always doubt, you never know.

“As I said, we’ve never done these stages and obviously the choices were so different because nobody had experience, and the people were taking different lines.

“Normally it doesn’t mean that always there needs to be this kind of big gaps and Elfyn was actually pretty close to making it, he just missed by 10kms, but yeah it was still a tough loop.”

Evans admitted he “had a suspicion leaving service” this morning that Toyota’s call would backfire.

“Obviously the choice is already made last night,” Evans said, “and then yeah after the first one we tried to drive quite smooth and then the wear was so massive, then at that point we knew we were a bit in trouble to be honest.”

But why did Toyota feel taking a full-soft package would work?

“I think mostly that the grip was so low yesterday morning and obviously the temperatures are so low here, but obviously the abrasion of the stages was still massive,” Evans replied.

“It was a mistake, as simple as that.”


Rovanperä added: “I think we were just too optimistic, and for some reason yesterday evening the team, we had the idea that we can manage. Clearly we couldn’t.

“We knew that the last stage of the loop would be rough and we knew that at the end of the loop we would be with finished tires with softs, but yeah clearly we didn’t expect the first and the middle one to be so high wear also.

“Maybe by that they had the idea that with the softs we could manage.”


Although tire strategy will be more straightforward for the afternoon loop with temperatures climbing even higher, Tänak predicts that tire wear will still be a struggle.

“This afternoon the tire choice is easy but the loop itself is a killer,” he said, “it’s going to be a tough time with the high temperatures as well to keep tires on the car for all this 70-80km.

“It’s difficult.”