Tänak’s mixed memories of Rally Poland

Rally Poland hasn't always been kind to Ott Tänak – but he's excited for its WRC return anyway

Girardo_Co._Archive_797549 (1)

Those who were there will never forget the emotion of the moment. Those who were watching around the world couldn’t fail to be moved. Ott Tänak had come within an ace of landing his maiden world championship win, only to see it slip away with a penultimate stage puncture in Poland.

His Ford Fiesta WRC had gone into the stage 18.6 seconds ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen, looking like a man locked on to a historic first win. Twelve miles later with front-right tire off the rim, he was 16.5s behind the Norwegian and heading for second.

He duly brought the car home in the runners-up spot – his best result up to that point. Arriving at the finish, there was nothing to celebrate. The Estonian parked his Ford, stepped out and into the arms of his wife Janika. The Tänaks walked away. They needed time on their own.

Girardo_Co._Archive_797723 (1)

Defending world champion Sébastien Ogier gave them their moment, then did the most decent of things. He walked across and embraced the pair, reminding Ott that his moment would come. His win would arrive.

The Frenchman then hoisted Tänak up and carried him towards the fans who stood and cheered their appreciation for the men and the moment.

Talking to DirtFish about the moment in 2020, Tänak admitted it was a low point.

“It had been quite a tough time in the career,” he said, “and that result looked like it was coming. I wanted this win and it felt like we had earned it. It was hard to take, but then you come back and start again.

“It was nice from the other [drivers] and, of course, a nice moment from Séb.”

Looking forward to heading back to Poland again, Tänak is thinking only good thoughts about the place he almost made his own.

He added: “My memories of Poland are great – it’s a rally that I have enjoyed a lot. It has very fast, demanding roads that can change massively depending on the weather, but I am really looking forward to it.

“I really like the profile of this event, and it’s similar to where I learned to drive in Estonia. I was really close to winning my first ever rally in Poland, but it didn’t happen. Since then, I have finished on the podium a few times, so I know I can perform well but still have some room for improvement.

“Hopefully we can find a good feeling in the car to give us the amount of confidence needed to push across the whole weekend.”