Neuville wants Tänak to stay at Hyundai – and confident he will

Speculation is rising about Ott Tänak's future, but despite the controversy in Greece Thierry Neuville wants him to stay at Hyundai

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Ott Tänak threw his own future at Hyundai into doubt after a fractious team orders saga on the final day of Acropolis Rally Greece. With Kalle Rovanperä giving up yet more points he wanted the extra points for victory – but the team order came to stay in second place.

His team-mate Thierry Neuville was the main beneficiary, being left free and clear to wrap up his first World Rally Championship win of the year without pressure from behind.

That could have marked a pressure point for the relationship between Hyundai’s pair of leading drivers. Instead, Neuville is encouraging his team-mate to remain where he is.

DirtFish asked Neuville whether he wanted Tänak to stay put at Hyundai in 2023 and whether he believed that Tänak would choose to remain where he is.

“A, I want him to stay,” he responded. “B, I’m sure he will stay as well.”

Hyundai has been playing catch-up this season, having been the last factory team to design and build its Rally1 challenger.

It’s in that push to fix what was broken that Neuville values in Tänak as a team-mate, and why he’s keen for the 2019 world champion to stick around next year.

“In a team, you need all the drivers to be pushing hard to get improvements,” Neuville explained. “I think together on that side we have collaborated quite well.

“It shows that in a very short period we were able to push the team forward and we have the same point of view on what is needed for us to be competitive. Alone, you can’t fight for that. You need support.

“I think he’s the best support I could have and I’m doing the best to support him for that as well, to bring the team back where it belongs and where it should be. That’s clear and that’s what we’re working on.”

Both drivers have also reflected on the tense Sunday morning in Lamia.

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For Tänak, the team orders fallout was between him and the team. Neuville? They didn’t need any clearing the air talks – in his mind, it hadn’t gotten cloudy in the first place.

“There was nothing to discuss between ourselves,” said Tänak. “Thierry did his job, I did my job, it’s not our job to decide what we need to do. Obviously he did a great weekend.”

Neuville conceded that an unlikely third disaster in a row for Rovanperä might prove his team’s decision two weeks earlier to be a mistake.

“We have had enough time to reflect on it,” he said. “The decision has been taken by the team and there is no way to regret it now.

“If now Rovanperä goes off on the first stage and Ott has the chance to win, maybe it has been the wrong decision. But I don’t believe it [will happen].”

Tänak, meanwhile, was in more of a conciliatory mood than a few weeks earlier – accepting that how far behind he was in the title race before Greece meant a call to swap positions was a hard sell.

“Obviously it was kind of a difficult situation for everyone,” said Tänak. “In the end, fair play to Thierry, he was fast and we were not in the fight for first place. So it was a bit unfortunate.

“Obviously in this position, if you want to fight for the championship, you need to try to grab every point possible. If the gap would be closer maybe we would be kind of in a hunter role. But at the moment, as we are so far behind, it’s not in our hands to fight for the championship.

“It’s all up to Kalle if he wants to give us some other chance or not. But I guess he’s given quite many already.”