Ott Tänak made the perfect preparation for Rally Estonia after taking the Lõuna-Eesti Ralli win last weekend, but it was a different story for Toyota‘s Elfyn Evans who suffered a huge crash on stage six of the event.
The South Estonia event was used by several WRC teams and drivers, including the defending champion and Hyundai teammate Thierry Neuville, as well as all three of the Toyota crews, as a final warm up ahead of the championships return next weekend.
Tanak, who won seven of the eight stages and took the win by 13.7 seconds, said on his victory: “We have been working on the car for a long time, now it’s time to make the car and ourselves sharper. Thank you to the organizers for a great rally, the most competitive rally so far I’ve ever had.”
Welshman Evans’ event was cut short after a mammoth accident on stage five left his Yaris WRC all but destroyed. Both him and co-driver Scott Martin were uninjured in the crash.
Behind winner Tänak in second place was Kalle Rovanperä . The young Finn appears to be continuing his fine pace onboard a top-level WRC car and appears to still be as competitive as he was before the sport ground to a halt after the end of Rally Mexico back in March and he finished on the podium ahead of six-time champion Sebastien Ogier.
All three of the WRC’s manufacturers were represented on the one-day event, which at the last minute had to have a changed itinerary due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the local area, as well as several WRC2 and WRC3 regulars also taking part including Jari Huttunen and Nikolay Gryazin.
Finn Huttunen was the fastest non-WRC spec car on the rally, albeit over three and half minutes slower than Tänak over the course of the eight stages after a battle throughout the day with rival Gryazin which saw him leapfrog the Russian driver on the final stage.
With Toyota and Hyundai both entering each of their drivers using their own manufacturer teams, M-Sport Ford duo Esapekka Lappi and Teemu Suninen both competed in Estonia last weekend, but in two privately entered cars as the Cumbrian team focused on their own Return to Rally Stages event being held near their base in the UK.
Lappi ended the event fourth, one place ahead of Hyundai’s Neuville, in a Jan Pro prepared Fiesta WRC, while Suninen took 12th overall in a R5 Mk1-spec Fiesta.
Sixth was Georg Gross in another privatly entered Fiesta WRC, with Huttunen and Gryazin taking seventh an eighgh overall. Completing the top 10 were Eerik Pietarinen, fresh from his recent outings in the FIA European Rally Championship and Ole Christian Vieby, who was another WRC2 regular opting to use the event as a Rally Estonia warmup.
Rally Estonia finally gets the FIA World Rally Championship back underway next weekend following the coronavirus pandemic.