Hyundai World Rally Championship driver Ott Tänak has received a suspended one-round ban for driving from the end of SS10 Saint-Clément – Freissinières to the Monte Carlo Rally service in Gap with only three freely rotating wheels.
Tänak, his co-driver Martin Järveoja and Hyundai team manager Alain Penasse were summoned to the stewards on Sunday after the conclusion of the rally, won by Sébastien Ogier.
The Hyundai pair retired from the rally after the incident – caused by back-to-back punctures on SS9 and SS10 while the car was carrying only one spare in the trunk – as per the regulations.
But event stewards have now handed Tänak and Järveoja a suspended one-event ban for the 2021 World Rally Championship season.
It means if Tänak is found guilty of a similar offence in the next year, he will be banned from competition for one round of the championship.
Tänak was in breach of Article 34.1.5 of the WRC sporting regulations, which states: “On a road section that is a public road and at the start of a stage, a competition car may only be driven on four freely rotating wheels and tires.
“Any car not complying with this article will be considered as retired as per WRC Art.54. An additional penalty may be imposed by the stewards.”
He was also in breach of Article 12.2.1.h of the FIA’s International Sporting Code, which revolves around “any unsafe act or failure to take reasonable measures, thus resulting in an unsafe situation”.
The stewards’ bulletin read: “Even if the competitor has been considered retired under WRC Article 34.1.5, the crew continued to drive after SS10 on public roads in that unsafe condition which is considered dangerous and the stewards decided that this was hence also a breach of 2021 ISC Art.12.2.1.h.
“In reaching their decision, the stewards also took into consideration that, on account of the exceptional circumstances for Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo with no restart possibility in case of a retirement on the Saturday, the retirement of car #8 in application of WRC Art 34.1.5 and as finally also declared by the team in the Service F Gap also resulted in the final retirement from the rally.
“Due to the extraordinary circumstances in this case, the present decision shall not be taken as a precedent for sanctions in case of future breaches of WRC Art 34.1.5 by any competitor.”
Tänak is not the only driver to have penalized during the weekend.
Rally winner Ogier and Hyundai Motorsport co-drivers Martijn Wydaeghe and Carlos del Barrio were all handed €400 fines for completing SS10 of the rally without the strap on their helmets being fastened properly.