In preparation for Rally Turkey, most World Rally Championship contenders are talking tactics, discussing the need to stay ahead of their nearest rivals; the potential for a powerstage curve ball. Ott Tänak has one thing on his mind: another win.
Last time out, the Hyundai Motorsport driver slashed Sébastien Ogier’s points lead from 24 to 13 points with a win – his first of the season – and three bonus points. A similar effort in Turkey would place Tänak’s title defence back in his own hands. Under his own control.
What’s the approach in Marmaris? The champion smiles.
“Everything is straightforward for everybody at the moment,” he said, leaving a pause, either for emphasis or to allow DirtFish to fill what to him is a fairly obvious gap.
“Everybody needs a win.”
And Tänak’s pursuit of a second win in succession could be helped by the development of the i20. The Hyundai has generally been regarded as a strong car on rough roads, but last week’s test in Turkey indicate the team has taken another step forward since the last time it ran in this specification for March’s Rally México.
“The car is pretty different to Mexico,” said Tänak.
“We have been working on everything, a bit of everything. Probably, I would say, the chassis and some other stuff is quite different to what we had in Mexico.
“I don’t know is it enough, but we will find out soon. I’ve never been in this car in Turkey so, honestly, I have no idea.
“A lot has changed [on the car] and we don’t know where the other guys are. It’s difficult to predict, it can all be good and I hope we are on the best level that’s physically possible at the moment.”
Shorter Turkey route “still flat out”
Like Estonia, Turkey will run to a shorter format, with just two stages on Friday afternoon. That won’t make any difference to the pace, according to Tänak.
“It’s still flat out,” he said. “For sure, everybody is pushing, but you need to push within the limit [of the roads].
“It’s two days, but in the end, rally is rally and all the mileage we have, we need to push to the limit. We need to compete on all the stages we have.”
Luck, as ever, will be a factor
Tänak’s win in Turkey two years ago was born out of his rivals hitting problem after problem on what is one of the most mechanically demanding rallies around.
As much as anything this week, the winner will need some degree of good fortune to keep avoiding the biggest of big rocks.
“These are the things you can’t really change,” said Tänak.
“You can’t change your luck. In the end, we need to do the best we can and the rest is not in our hands.
“Of course, we wish for the best, but as I said the only thing we can change is what we can do ourselves and the rest we don’t need to worry about.”