Suspension issue caused Tänak’s opening loop misery

Hyundai driver is nearly two minutes back after the first four stages


Reigning World Rally Champion Ott Tänak has revealed he was battling a suspension issue aboard his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC on Rally Italy’s first four stages.

On the opening test, Tänak was immediately losing time to the leaders and finished down in 11th, 27.9 seconds adrift of then-leader Teemu Suninen and slower than two Rally2 cars.

From there, he lost at least 25s per stage to lie down in ninth overall, 1m49.6s shy of rally leader Dani Sordo.

“Generally we’ve been carrying a suspension issue, so nothing much to explain,” Tänak told DirtFish.

“Obviously it was not possible to fix with the tools and things we had in the car, and still from the other side quite lucky we could manage it through the stages and we are back here. For sure we lost quite a bit but at least we are still in.

“We had an issue and then it got worse while we were driving,” he said of when he first noticed it on SS1. “Very difficult to say where it happened.

“The engineers probably can explain a bit more when they go through the data and the information they have, so for the moment for me it’s difficult to say much more.”

With title rivals Sébastien Ogier third, Elfyn Evans fourth and Thierry Neuville fifth, it’s a major blow to Tänak’s already dwindling title hopes.

He headed to Sardinia 27 points behind Evans with potentially just two rallies remaining. Excluding powerstage bonus points, if things stay as they are he would lose another 11 points to the championship leader.

When asked what his plan would be for Friday afternoon, Tänak told DirtFish: “We need to keep going and do our best, so I guess the front [order] we can’t change too much now, we are just enough far back to really – let’s say not to be able to make much big difference but still some way to go and hopefully we can still learn about the car.”