Ott Tänak has confessed he will try “extra hard to keep my eyes open” on future World Rally Championship rounds following his Rally Italy suspension failure, but he’s refusing to get frustrated by what happened.
Tänak had been leading in Sardinia by 40.5 seconds after stage 11 before he ran over a rock in the racing line on SS12 and immediately had to slow as the rear-left wheel on his Hyundai was working itself loose.
It followed a remarkably similar scenario in Portugal where Tänak had been leading by over 20s before his suspension broke without him hitting anything obvious.
Talking to DirtFish about a disastrous weekend championship-wise that now leaves him 57 points behind leader Sébastien Ogier – who went on to win in Sardinia – Tänak said “I can’t think too much” about the suspension failures.
“It’s something we can’t change,” he explained.
“We go there [to Safari], we do our best and of course I try extra hard to keep my eyes open, but I can’t think too much about it. It’s something I can’t really change.
“The positive part is that the team has been really behind me, and for sure I’ve been trying to get the things out the car but at the same time they’ve been supporting me with this,” Tänak added.
“The general support is big, and this is also now showing in the results. We are still [behind] but at least the car starts to behave like I wish and for sure this is giving us some extra performance.”
Asked if he was driving too fast given his lead and that could’ve potentially led to an issue, Tänak said the rock “in a blind spot” and “was definitely difficult to avoid”.
Particularly given what happened in Portugal, service park speculation is rife that the Hyundai is too fragile. But Tänak’s team-mate Thierry Neuville doesn’t “think any of the cars could resist” the size of the stone Tänak hit.
We have Safari and then after we have Greece which is going to be very demanding for the carOtt Tänak
“It’s true maybe we struggle a bit more than Toyota in small damages in Sardinia, maybe this is something to work [on],” said Neuville, “but the team has a focus more on the new car and we know what we have to solve to be strong with the new car.”
Asked if he felt the Hyundai was too fragile, Tänak said: “Maybe if it comes together for the car to be fast it starts to be a bit fragile.
“It’s a bit so and so, always like this,” he added. “I’ve been there before, I’ve seen it here before and also in previous teams, at some moment it comes together.
“It’s down to the engineering. I’m just a piece between the seat and the steering wheel. Yeah, let’s see, they are definitely working.
“We have Safari and then after we have Greece which is going to be very demanding for the car. We know in these conditions the car is fast but there are some buts.
“I’m sure we [will] get over it.”