Ott Tänak will start his home round of the World Rally Championship with a five-minute penalty as his engine has had to be changed before the first competitive stage of Rally Estonia.
Tänak set the pace on the first run of shakedown in his M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid, but as soon as he reached the stop control he reported an engine issue.
His car was then towed back to service in Tartu where the M-Sport mechanics investigated the issue.
Although the precise problem with the engine could not be determined, it was significant enough to necessitate an engine change.
As per the WRC’s sporting regulations, that means Tänak will start the rally five minutes down on the rest of the field.
“We don’t know exactly, but what we do know is it’s a fairly significant engine issue so we have no option but to change the engine,” M-Sport team principal Richard Millener confirmed.
“It will mean we get a penalty before we start the rally so really frustrating beginning to the rally and possibly the worst start we could have, but OK, that’s the situation we find ourselves in.
“Regulations state a five-minute time penalty so that’s going to put us at a serious disadvantage from the word go,” Millener added, “but we’ve got to switch focus, there’s nothing we can change about what’s happened.
“So the focus will have to be on trying to find a way to salvage as much as possible from the event. That will be very difficult obviously, but we can’t change the situation.
“This is possibly the worst rally this could have happened on with all the support from his home fans, so we can only apologize to them. They will still support Ott and we hope to have the best rally we can from a set of very difficult circumstances.”
Millener added that it’s a “very tough” situation for Tänak and Järveoja, “but they’re professionals and they learn to deal with adversity”.
He explained: “There’s no point shouting at each other or getting angry at each other, we can’t change anything about the position we’re in at the moment.
“We’ve just got to work together as a team and try and go away with a positive attitude to the rest of the rally.
“It’s happened now and we’ve just got to deal with it.”