Ott Tänak refuses to give up on winning his second World Rally Championship title this year.
That’s despite a 53-point deficit to Kalle Rovanperä that Tänak feels should be lower, had his Hyundai team not told him to hold station behind Thierry Neuville on last weekend’s Acropolis Rally.
Tänak has almost halved Rovanperä’s advantage over the past three events with wins in Finland and Belgium and second behind team-mate Neuville in Greece.
A costly mistake from Rovanperä on Ypres Rally and another low score on the Acropolis, allied to Hyundai’s resurgence, means that momentum is with the Alzenau-based squad that has yet to claim a WRC drivers’ title.
With a 23-point advantage over Neuville, Tänak is by far the best-placed Hyundai driver to break that duck.
However Tänak’s deficit to Rovanperä would have been a slightly more manageable 46 points if Hyundai had instructed Neuville to drop behind his team-mate on the Acropolis.
It was a call, made by Hyundai Motorsport president Sean Kim, that Tänak accepted but later described as the wrong one in terms of the championship but the right one for PR.
But while the 2019 world champion still has a mathematical shot at the title, he’s going to give it everything to steal it.
“Everything is possible until it’s finished,” Tänak told DirtFish. “But I mean, yeah, just doing it alone it can be probably a bit difficult.
“Kalle is still in a very favorable position and the gap is obviously very big. So yeah… these kind of gifts don’t come very often.”
Asked if by “doing it alone”, Tänak was suggesting he felt isolated within the team, he responded: “No, no, no, not like this. This is not the case.
“There are many people who are really good and we are working together on the technical side as well. The car is obviously improving so things are getting done.
“It’s been just a challenge and this weekend it was a big shame that we lost so much [time]. On Friday we couldn’t get optimum road position and then yesterday morning some issues as well, so they kept us away from the fight.”
Tänak’s position on the road for Saturday’s stages was compromised when team-mate Dani Sordo failed to execute a team order requesting him to let Tänak pass him.
He was also hampered by his hybrid system failing on Friday and differential problems the following morning.
He praised his Hyundai team for the progress it has made that allowed it to achieve an historic 1-2-3, while emphasizing the need for further development.
“Quite incredible,” Tänak said of the result. “You could see it was very demanding. From our side we managed to keep all the cars running, so good job.
“Inside some window we’ve been able to get the car working. For sure there are still many, many things [where] I could see a lot of performance coming.
“It can be a good car if we get the things working. So far it’s still going quite slowly, but anyway this weekend we just need to enjoy, and it’s been a very good result.”