Tänak pushing M-Sport to work to new design philosophy

M-Sport technical director Chris Williams has lifted the lid on what Tänak wants from the Puma


Ott Tänak is pushing M-Sport to work to a new design philosophy, M-Sport technical director Chris Williams has revealed.

Tänak currently leads the World Rally Championship standings two rounds into the 2023 season thanks to victory on Rally Sweden – but the Estonian is yet to find his sweet spot with the Puma Rally1.

Even before the opening round of the season in Monte Carlo, Tänak had identified what he wanted to change with the car. He and the team had remained tight-lipped on the precise nature of the issues, but Williams has offered DirtFish more of an insight.


“There are certain features about the car that seem to be inherent between Tarmac and gravel that he thinks we don’t have correct,” Williams said. “That’s a philosophy of the way we’ve worked in the last two years, so he wants us to change some of that.

“He thinks we have something he would prefer to be different, it’s as simple as that. We’ve worked in one direction, let’s say, and he thinks our direction is wrong.

“He wants the car different, which is fine, so we’re working hard to try and give him what he wants.”

Asked where specifically the work is focused on, Williams laughed: “Let’s say it’s not linked to one area solely.”

With areas such as suspension, geometry and transmission under the spotlight, Williams admitted the fix was unlikely to come overnight.

WRC 2023

He added: “[Homologation] jokers are likely and that’s the headache. But we’re also working flat out to get the parts manufactured and things tested to make sure we’ve validated; we don’t want to go in half-cocked.

“We’ve got to be sure of what we’re doing.”

Both M-Sport drivers Tänak and Pierre-Louis Loubet have been testing at M-Sport’s permanent testing site in Greystoke forest this week ahead of the season’s first gravel rally in three weeks.

Williams however wouldn’t be drawn on when any new parts will be added to the car.

“We have stuff coming,” he promised, “[so] if the tests go well we will introduce it as soon as we possibly can.”

Words:David Evans