Put it to Ott Tänak that Hyundai Motorsport starts the 2022 season on the back foot and he’s right back at you with one question. It’s the same question that everybody is asking. Right now, it’s the only question in the World Rally Championship.
In under a fortnight, we’ll have some answers. Today, nobody knows.
“How can anybody predict?” Tänak asks DirtFish. “It’s very hard to predict where we will be. We’ve been focusing on our own job to be happy ourselves. We do our own thing and when we go to the competition we will see how we compare to the other people.”
Last season, the Estonian’s frustrations with technical issues were clear to see. And hear. His words when the wipers failed in Kenya were telling: “The quality is amazing…”
This week the 2019 world champion’s tone and attitude couldn’t be more different.
He’s heard all the stories, all the rumors about where his i20 N Rally1 might or might not be in comparison to M-Sport’s Ford Puma and Toyota’s all-new hybrid Yaris. But he’s not interested in such talk. He’s interested in demonstrating his faith and appreciation in the team back at base in Alzenau.
“The team has done the maximum,” he said. “They have been flat out through all of the weekends and through all of the holidays. It’s not just about paying credit to [their efforts] it’s about the amazing job they have done [with the car].
People are missing the principal here in the teamOtt Tänak
“We have done everything we could and the guys have even done sometimes a bit more than the reality allows. Now we have one test session left before Monte and we will take the best we can out of that.
“OK, I guess you can always be in a better position – it’s the same for everybody – but honestly the team has done everything.”
Tänak, like his team-mate Thierry Neuville, refused to be drawn on who he wanted for a team principal at the top of the Hyundai Motorsport tree.
All Tänak would say is that he’s keen to see a resolution to the identity of Andrea Adamo’s successor sooner rather than later.
“People are missing the principal here in the team,” he said. “The things are critical with many new things and it’s important to have somebody [like Adamo] who is pushing the doors. People are working flat out here and that’s why the team principal is needed.
“I know the guys from Korea are working flat out on this topic, let’s see soon.”