How Tänak’s title focus has changed

Ott Tänak isn't giving up on a world championship title, but his priorities have flipped


Ott Tänak will maintain his intensity and focus in this year’s World Rally Championship but, with his drivers’ crown aspirations looking difficult, he will do even more to help Hyundai Motorsport in the pursuit of a third straight makes’ title.

Reigning champion Sébastien Ogier currently leads the points with 148 – exactly double Tänak’s total – following Rally Estonia; the seventh round of 12. Estonia was another disappointing event for Tänak as he chalked up his third retirement in four rallies.

Tänak is fifth in the championship, and that retirement on the opening day at home has made it even more complicated for him to lift a second title in three years.

He had hinted at the end of Rally Estonia that his own title challenge could be over, telling the live TV reporter that the points he could potentially score on the powerstage weren’t so important for him, but for the team.

For me it’s difficult. But for the team, we need to keep pushing as much as possible Ott Tänak

Hyundai is 61 points behind Toyota and hasn’t outscored its rival since Arctic Rally Finland in February; a sizable deficit, but not as big as Tänak’s personal 74-point margin to Ogier in the drivers’ standings.

He told DirtFish: “Sure, for me it’s difficult. But for the team, we need to keep pushing as much as possible.

“We need to see how things develop at the moment because Toyota is still very far away, we have to do what we can.

“For me, let’s say I’m not giving up and I will go and do [my] best in the coming rallies, but for the championship it’s nothing to think about.”


Team-mate Thierry Neuville told DirtFish prior to Safari Rally Kenya that he wouldn’t ever push for Hyundai to put all of its resources behind him, as he felt it’s important everybody clubs together to achieve the best team result.

“We always have had the same possibilities in Hyundai and the same cars, that’s still the case now and it will probably be the same case until the end of the season,” Neuville said last month.

“There might be one point [where there’s] a situation where the driver’s points might be really important for me, more than for Ott or Dani [Sordo] or whoever is in the third car, but I’ll leave it up to Andrea [Adamo, team principal] to decide whether it’s necessary or not.”

Neuville is also a fading player in the quest to become 2021 World Rally Champion, lying 52 points adrift of Ogier. His chances do however look more realistic than Tänak’s as Neuville currently has 22 more points – almost a rally win’s worth – than the 2019 world champion.