Ott Tänak has defended his decision to gamble on wet weather tires on SS6 of Croatia Rally.
With clouds looming and a hint of rain in the air ahead of the Stojdraga – Hartje test, drivers were left trying to decide whether they should fit wet tires or not to their car.
The Hyundais and Toyotas bar Takamoto Katsuta opted to remain on a full set of dry tires for the test, banking on the rain not falling quite hard enough.
But Tänak opted to go the other way, fitting a wet tire to his Puma Rally1, in the hope it would give him an advantage when he hit the damp patches lurking midway through the stage.
Unfortunately, that gamble didn’t pay off, with the rain not falling hard enough. Instead, Tänak ended the test sixth fastest, 17 seconds slower than the stage victor Esapekka Lappi, who at that moment also passed Tänak for third overall.
But despite the time loss and subsequent temporary loss of position, Tänak believes the thought process at the time based on the information available was the right one.
“The thinking itself was not so wrong actually with the information we had,” he explained to DirtFish.
“Let’s say I believe the data was showing that from kilometer four the clouds were increasing and we were expecting rain already quite early on in the stage.
“And actually when we were in the stage, the place where we saw it was actually sunny.
“So it didn’t really work out and obviously it was a very long stage with wet tires on and quite dry conditions.
“It was hard to say because the information was quite limited and we had quite a short time to make the decision.
“So the message from the team was that we should go for the wets and we went and obviously it didn’t work out.
“But from the other side it was not a massive disaster. We are still there.”
Although Tänak was able to immediately rebound from that disappointment to win the following stage, the same could not be said for Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta who lost over 40s making the same gamble.
And when it came to Katsuta’s decision making, he was influenced too much by what the others around him were doing.
“[It was] Not so easy to get the right information,” Katsuta explained at the end of the day on Friday.
“Also we are struggling to get signal on the phone and things. I mean everybody.
“There’s not so much signal, so yeah, not so easy to find the right information and right choice for the tires.
“Especially the second one, I knew that there was rain before 50 minutes or one hour ago, but I don’t know how much rain and things.
“So then I saw that Ott and Pierre-Louis was changing tires and then ‘hmmmm maybe I try now’ because I lost a lot of time already on the previous stage after my spin.
“So some mistakes but still some learning and the stage time seems to be not too bad. So we need to improve a bit.