Tänak’s season has been far better than it looks

It's tempting to look at the championship and write Tänak's season off, but some other numbers prove otherwise

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Third in the World Rally Championship standings, 83 points off the lead doesn’t make for great reading if you are Ott Tänak.

With the new Rally1 regulations introduced this year, 2022 was meant to be the first time in a while that he really had a chance of mounting a considerable title challenge after two difficult seasons with Hyundai.

But right now, perusing over the championship tally alone, it doesn’t look like any challenge has been mounted in the slightest.

Two outright retirements, further reliability issues in Sweden and only a single victory to his name, it’s easy to surmise that Tänak’s season has been disappointing so far.


But has it?

As is all so often the case, looks can be deceiving.

Yes, the headline stats don’t make for great reading at all, but if you dig a little deeper, you begin to realize that Tänak’s season hasn’t been as bad as you might initially assume.

So far this season the WRC’s drivers have contested 112 stages all in. As you might expect, having won four rallies this year, Kalle Rovanperä has also won the majority of stages.

He’s amassed a total of 31 stage victories, but while it might be natural to assume that Thierry Neuville has the second highest tally of stage wins, you’d be wrong.

He might be second in the championship, but he’s fourth on the stage winners list having won 14 tests.

Most stage wins so far this season:

Position Driver Stage wins
1 Kalle Rovanperä 31
2 Ott Tänak 18
3 Elfyn Evans 15
4 Thierry Neuville 14
5= Sébastien Ogier 10
5= Sébastien Loeb 10

In fact, it’s Tänak that has won the most stages this year after Rovanperä.

He’s picked up 18 stage victories in all, and it instantly proves a major point.

For all those arguing that Tänak has lost his edge and is no longer as competitive as he once was, it’s time to pipe down and eat a slice of humble pie.

He’s on it. The stats prove it right there in black and white.

Yes, he made a mistake on Monte Carlo which ended his rally, and in Portugal he was off the pace, bar two stages that he won. But his difficulties have come about as a result of reliability issues manifesting from his Hyundai i20 N Rally1.

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Despite suffering with hybrid issues in Sweden – which meant he finished 20th overall – Tänak still managed to win four stages, and in Italy, when he found his groove, there was no stopping him.

He won nine of the 21 stages in Sardinia, enabling him to win the rally over a minute ahead of M-Sport’s Craig Breen.

It’s clear that Tänak hasn’t lost an ounce of speed. Once the car is running without issue and the balance is to his liking, he’s still as fast as anyone else.

And when you take all that into account, it does begin to beg another question – how would he be faring if he were in a different car?


That’s an impossible question to answer. We’d have to see him in action elsewhere to get to the bottom of that.

But the raw numbers are deceptive, Tänak hasn’t lost anything at all.

He’s still just as fast, and just as capable of mounting a real title challenge. He just needs a car that doesn’t let him down as regularly as his i20 N is right now.

Words:Rob Hansford