When emotions are hard to contain in the WRC

Ott Tänak has suffered his fair share of WRC heartache, not least in Sardinia back in 2019

Girardo Overlay [White]

Returning to Poland brought back memories of the event’s previous spell in the World Rally Championship. Few were more dramatic than when Ott Tänak lost what would have been a maiden WRC win to a flat tire on the penultimate stage.

On that occasion, Tänak was memorably consoled by his future team-mate Sébastien Ogier.

Three years later, Poland was no longer on the WRC calendar and Ott Tänak was en route to winning the world championship.

But moments like his final-stage heartbreak on Sardinia would have had him questioning whether he was destined to forever be a nearly man of the WRC.

This picture from the Girardo & Co. Archive captures the crestfallen Tänak embracing one of his Toyota crew.

WRC Rally Italia Sardegna 13 - 16 June 2019

The Estonian had driven a sublime rally and looked in unbeatable form. His lead over Hyundai’s Dani Sordo going into the 4.3-mile powerstage stood at 26.7s.

Then his Yaris WRC’s steering jammed, pitching him into a spin. He eventually dragged the recalcitrant car home more than two minutes off the pace, falling to fifth overall.

Tänak was denied a fourth win of the season – a figure that could easily have been six but for other misfortune – and Citroën driver Ogier and Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville were breathing down his neck in the championship standings.

How much more of this emotional rollercoaster ride could he take? Perhaps the grass might be greener on the other side…

Words:Mark Paulson