Ott Tänak won his first event in a Rally2 by taking victory on Rally Saaremaa alongside fellow driver Robert Virves – but only just.
Tänak, who will leave M-Sport Ford after just one single season to reunite with Hyundai in 2024, drove a Ford Fiesta Rally2 run by his own RedGrey team.
In stormy conditions, the 2019 World Rally champion beat 2021 ERC Junior champion Ken Torn and co-driver Kuldar Sikk (who co-drove Tänak when he broke into the World Rally Championship) by 9.2 seconds.
Torn won Friday’s first two stages in his Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, before Tänak hit the front after SS3 to lead overnight by 1.1s.
A string of fastest times on Saturday morning allowed Tänak’s lead to grow to 18.2s before Torn came back at him. Torn, who’d only started one rally this year prior to Saaremaa and had never driven the latest generation Fabia, won SS9, 10, 11 and 12 to tie with Tänak on six stages wins, but lost out on the win by under 10s.
Gregor Jeets finished third, a further two minutes further back, in a Hyundai i20 N Rally2.
On his first rally outside of Finland, Justus Räikkönen was third in the Rally3 class in his Ford Fiesta. Taylor Gill was top of the six FIA Rally Star crews in fourth overall, two minutes down on class winner Hubert Laskowski.