Hyundai Motorsport will field a pair of i20 Coupé WRCs for Ott Tänak and Thierry Neuville on next week’s Otepää Winter Rally in Estonia.
The eight-stage February 13 event offers 51 miles of competition on the sort of fast, flowing, snow-filled roads Tänak and Neuville will find when they arrive at the second round of the World Rally Championship, the Arctic Rally Finland, at the end of the month.
Home hero Tänak is no stranger to domestic Estonian rallying, having cut his teeth on his nation’s stages at the start of his career – but last year he went back to those roots, competing on three events as well as winning the WRC-qualifying Rally Estonia.
The 2019 World Rally Champion is happy to be back again.
“Participating at Otepää Winter Rally is a great opportunity for us to get back into the rhythm for the upcoming Arctic Rally Finland, especially in the conditions like we have here in Estonia at the moment,” he said.
“Winter rallies are very specific and normally we don’t have much options to prepare for them, so we need to use every single day that we can have.
“Our presence in the Estonian Rally Championship events with a WRC car has become a normality, but I am looking forward to drive again these special roads of south Estonia.”
Hyundai Motorsport team principal Andrea Adamo added that the Otepää-based event would also offer another opportunity for the team to gather more data running Pirelli’s snow rally-specific Sottozero tire.
“We are happy to participate in Otepää Winter Rally with two Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC cars as part of our preparations for Arctic Rally Finland,” said Adamo.
“The snowy and icy conditions of the event will offer a good opportunity to our crews Ott [Tänak] and Martin [Järveoja] and Thierry [Neuville] and Martijn [Wydaeghe] to run in similar conditions to the ones they will find in Finland in a couple of weeks’ time and to gather more mileage with the Pirelli Sottozero ice tyre.
“We are always happy to go to Estonia and we feel very welcome in Ott’s home country. Unfortunately Otepää Winter Rally will be closed to spectators – due to COVID-19 restrictions – but a live TV coverage will allow Ott and WRC’s fans to follow the event closely from home.”
Clerk of the course of the event Marko Koosa was similarly pleased to have the world champions in town.
Koosa added: “I am really glad that Hyundai Motorsport is coming back to Estonia again. We have a true winter wonderland here in Estonia right now and I think it will be a great opportunity for them to make their last preparations for the upcoming challenge in Rovaniemi.
“It will definitely put some extra pressure for our organizational team, but I am sure that everybody can handle this and this will be a great event for everyone.”
Nikolay Gryazin is another WRC regular making the trip to Estonia next week. The Russian drives his Volkswagen Polo R5.