An impact which ripped off the sumpguard was the cause of Ott Tänak’s engine issue which caused him to retire from Rally Finland.
Tänak struck something with the underside of his car on the third stage of the event prior to his engine cutting out.
Onboard footage revealed the incident, although did not show what Tänak had struck, and M-Sport Ford had already been informed by their driver that an impact had occurred.
“Initially what we know from Ott, there was an impact the bottom of the car, and we think that has then caused the damage, which has ultimately forced him to stop,” said team principal Richard Millener.
“So we don’t know what he hit, or where, but he reported back that there was a heavy impact and then he lost power.”
Tänak then confirmed to DirtFish: “On a flat corner on a compression we had a touch which broke the sumpguard.
“Can’t find out yet completely [why] but basically underneath the sumpguard was broken. Obviously that doesn’t have any effec on driving but for sure there is something else as well.
“Basically the oil has come out and the engine is dead.”
It is not the first time this year that Tänak has been hampered by engine issues, and Millener thinks “it’s quite unlikely” that he will rejoin the rally.
“We’ll get the car back and have a look, but the impact has been quite big, so we’ll have to have a look but it might be quite difficult I think.”
According to Millener, Tänak was “a little bit surprised” that the impact then led to his engine cutting out, as he was able to continue on EV mode before pulling off and retiring.
M-Sport’s pain then doubled as Tänak’s team-mate Pierre-Louis Loubet drifted into a bank and also had a stage-ending impact on the left-hand side of his car.
“To be honest from the in-car we saw when this happened, I didn’t expect the damage to be as big as it was,” said Millener.
“But clearly he’s gone into the tree or the rock or whatever he’s hit, quite early, quite far up the car just behind the driver’s door. There’s little sideways strengths in those panels at that point. There’s obviously the cage behind there, but it looks like it’s done quite a bit of damage to be honest, more than we were kind of expecting. So on that one we have to get it back and have a look.
“Obviously we’d love to see Pierre carry on, especially with what’s happened to Ott, but yeah… pretty challenging at the moment for us all, and these guys have been out here for three weeks. They’ve not gone home since Estonia.
“So for them to put all this effort in and for us to be where we are, it’s really sad for everyone, really. I’ve had some nice messages from other people, from Julien Moncet, from Andrea [Adamo], from people like that, that are within the sport and know the disappointment of these things and knows what happens.
“It’s a very different kind of atmosphere inside the teams where they understand what’s happening, versus what the fans see. There’s two quite different sides to the story.”
Millener spoke further about the online reaction the two incidents have already attracted.
“Obviously there’s been some fair criticism against us, there’s some unfair criticism against us so far this year,” he said.
“This one’s tricky for us all, again, but I’ve seen some good comments on the internet already. So that’s nice of people.
“But all I would say is the people that write these comments need to remember there’s also 50 people working very, very hard to do this. So it’s very easy to type the old keyboards, but just remember about the other people here.”
M-Sport later confirmed that Tänak was retired from the entire Rally Finland weekend.