M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson is encouraged by Ott Tänak’s pace on Rally Sweden, but isn’t pushing Tänak to win the rally knowing he isn’t entirely comfortable in the Puma Rally1.
Tänak has been in strong form all weekend long, emerging as Craig Breen’s strongest challenger. At Saturday lunchtime, Breen’s lead is just three seconds.
Prior to Sweden, Wilson said that he hoped Tänak would be in the hunt for the win, but speaking to DirtFish on Saturday he confirmed that Tänak’s current pace was exceeding expectations.
“In all honesty, it’s better that what we probably thought,” Wilson said to DirtFish when it was suggested that Tänak was in a good position.
“We thought we could challenge for a podium, but to be in the fight, and very much in the fight, it’s still… yeah we know that there’s things that Ott is not happy with so we know we’ve got work to do but to be where we are, I’m very happy in one sense, but obviously I want to make sure we can get him so he’s comfortable in the car as well.”
Wilson admitted that those changes will not be occurring this weekend, and that for now the team needs to manage the car as best as possible.
And given the fact that Tänak isn’t fully happy with the car at the moment, Wilson has urged caution when it comes to pushing for outright victory.
“We’ve got to be realistic.
“We’re talking about something now but what we’re talking about is not going to make… for me, we stick where we are.
“He gets to understand the car a bit more in all the conditions as well this afternoon and then we obviously then study the data and we’ve got to do it scientifically basically.
“I think you know Ott as well as I do, he’s not going to lay down and he’s not going to try and finish second.
“But he’s done a great job and touchwood car seems to be OK at the minute, so we’ll do what we can do, but we can’t make the changes here that he needs.”
Tänak also stated that he has no place to go setup-wise this weekend when it comes to extracting more performance from the car, and that right now he’s driving it to the very limit in order to keep up with Breen.
“Every stage we try to do all we can, nothing much we can give more,” he told DirtFish.
“We had no idea obviously [where we would be], we haven’t done any rally in a gravel car before so it’s always easier not to expect anything too much.
“The risks I am not fully able to take,” he added.
“I am not fully in control so this way it’s not working out. You normally lose more time than you win hitting the stages, but like I said I’m doing every stage I can.
“It’s been all maximum so far though, there’s no more coming.”