Nobody could blame Ott Tänak if his horrifyingly spectacular exit from last year’s Monte Carlo Rally wasn’t firmly in his mind as he returns to the iconic roads of the World Rally Championship curtain-raiser.
While Tanak quickly shrugged off the dramatic crash 12 months ago, his early exit from the opener cost him significant seat time and experience in his new i20 Coupe WRC – which put him on the back foot for his title defense.
But he’s confident that he now knows the car well enough to bounce back at 2021’s first round.
“Last year was a long time ago already,” Tänak told DirtFish. “It’s not my first crash and it probably won’t be the last one, but it won’t have any effect on this year. The route for Monte is quite different with some new stages, so we shouldn’t miss the experience from driving the stages last year.”
Relive TÄnak's horrifying Monte shunt
BOTH TÄNAK AND HIS CO-DRIVER MARTIN JÄREVOJA WALKED AWAY FROM THE CRASH WITHOUT INJURY
Tänak added that a comprehensive 2020 development programme had delivered more speed and performance for a Monte-specification i20.
“The car is very different from last year,” he said. “We did a lot of work and a lot of development through , so we have to see. I don’t think we’re going to be far away.”
Tänak has scored three podiums from his last four starts in the French Alps and the 2019 world champion acknowledges victory next week means lining up a lot of ducks.
“You need to go to that event with a really open mind,” he added. “It’s not always about pure performance, all the time you need to think about things and try to figure things out, things like the tire choice. For sure the experience of this rally helps, it’s more straightforward to come here if you have seen lots of the conditions before.”