Tänak triumphs with Poland Podium

Tänak triumphs with Poland PodiumFrom M-Sport [ 05/07/2015 ].
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M-Sport World Rally Team's Ott Tänak is in the form of his life - triumphing at Rally Poland with a third place finish and his first podium of the year. Producing a sensational drive, Tänak proved that he and the new Ford Fiesta RS WRC have the speed and performance to challenge for the top positions. At home on the fast-paced gravel, he overcame all adversity to truly make his mark on this season's FIA World Rally Championship.

Having to contend with intermittent brake issues throughout Friday's 155.04 kilometres, the Estonian's pace was also tempered by selecting Michelin's soft tyre which struggled to contend with the searing temperatures when compared to the optimum harder compound.

Despite these set-backs, he and co-driver Raigo Mõlder led the event from SS3 to SS6 and racked up an impressive six stage wins throughout the course of the weekend.

Going into the final stage, the pairing held third place over Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala by a mere 1.1 seconds and an intense fight for the final podium position ensued through the points-paying Power Stage.

Although his more experienced rival was piling on the pressure, Tänak wasn't going to be the one to crack. Proving he can be as mentally strong as he is blisteringly quick, it was Latvala who went off the road in a desperate attempt to catch the Estonian.

This third place finish equals his best ever performance at this level but this one will certainly mean more to M-Sport man - the result of pure pace and commitment.

To top off a sensational weekend, he claimed an addition two championship points in the Power Stage - posting the second fastest time just 0.1 seconds adrift of World Champion Sebastien Ogier.

Before coming to Poland, Tänak claimed that he would give it a "proper go" and there is no doubting that this weekend.

Unfortunately, there was less good fortune for the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC of Elfyn Evans. The Welshman was forced to make an early exit from yesterday's stages when a water pump failure - a tried and tested part carried over from the previous car - forced him to accept Rally 2 regulations on the liaison to SS11.

It was a bitter blow for Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt who had displayed a vast increase in pace from this time twelve months ago. The lack of a pre-event test wasn't standing in the way of the M-Sport drivers showcasing their potential and the Welshman outshone a number of his more experienced rivals through Friday's opening leg.

They say bad luck comes in threes and with the past three events not going to plan, Evans is more determined than ever to produce a turn of fortune at Rally Finland. To that effect, the team opted to retire his Ecoboost-powered Fiesta at the final service to best prepare for the 'Gravel Grand Prix.'

Ott Tänak (3rd) said:

"I cannot tell you how much this podium means to me, Raigo [Mõlder, co-driver] and the whole team. We have all worked so hard to get to this point and it is an incredible feeling to know that hard work is finally starting to pay off.

"I felt really good in the car all weekend and I have just enjoyed every single minute of it.

"Of course I have been on the podium before, but this is different. This was us - pure speed from us and the car and that is special.

"I said that I was going to give this one a proper go, and we have. Now I cannot wait for Finland where I think we have a good chance of being just as competitive."

Elfyn Evans (DNF) said:

"It's been three bad events in a row for us now so hopefully that's the end of it and we can look forward to making a comeback in Finland.

"Ott [Tänak] has really proven what the new car can do this weekend and that provides all of us with a huge amount of confidence moving forward.

"I think we had the potential to be relatively quick here. I don't know if I would have been on the same pace as Ott as he was simply incredible, but when everything was working well I felt really good in the car and I think we could have been where we wanted to be.

"Unfortunately we didn't get the mileage to prove that so we'll just have to try and prove it in Finland."

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

"It's been a sensational drive by Ott [Tänak] and Raigo [Mõlder]. It's been great to see them gain confidence over the last couple of events and now to be able to deliver a result like this is absolutely fantastic. And then to top it all off, his result on the final stage - that must have been the smallest margin Ogier has ever won a Power Stage by! It sends out a clear message that the combination of Ott and the new car is working well and we're all really looking forward to Finland in a few weeks' time.

"He's had a tough few years but he's really coming of age now and I think our strategy with both drivers is starting to prove its worth. The plan was always for the guys to use the first half of the season to find their feet, and then push the limits a bit more to see what we could do. It seems to be working, so let's just hope it continues.

"But the most important thing for us as a team is to see how competitive the new car really is. That's what we've been working towards and the morale within the team has been lifted tenfold by this result. With so many fastest stage times and such an encouraging performance by Ott, this is almost as good as a win for us and I'll be buying the beers tonight!"