Heartbreak for Tänak as Evans fight back

Rally Italia Sardegna


By Olivier Ferret

13 June 2015 - 23:35
Heartbreak for Tänak as Evans fight (...)

There were mixed fortunes for M-Sport World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak and Elfyn Evans through an arduous day at Rally Italia today. Tänak was on course for a strong podium finish until a transmission issue forced him out of contention, but Evans fought back into the top-five.

Proving how much he has developed as a driver, Tänak was producing what was arguably his best FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) performance to date. The Italian fixture is notoriously difficult and demands speed as well as respect – something the Estonian duly gave.

It is one thing to be fast in Sardinia but it is another to be clever and Tänak had driven with real intelligence this weekend. Despite struggling to find a comfortable rhythm, he and co-driver Raigo Mõlder remained focused on the job in hand – pushing when comfortable and conserving their true speed when not.

Heartbreakingly however, their intelligent approach was to go cruelly unrewarded. Following a hard landing over a crest part-way through the second pass of Monti di Ala’ (SS17), their Ford Fiesta RS WRC developed an issue with the transmission system. Although the pairing desperately tried to affect a repair, it proved unsurmountable.

It was an unjust end to what had been an impressive drive from Tänak who will restart under Rally 2 regulations tomorrow.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Evans was the event’s comeback kid. Despite being waylaid by a driveshaft issue on Friday morning that cost him more than three minutes to the leading pack, his knowledge and understanding of the stages saw him storm up the leader board.

Rebuilding his confidence following yesterday’s disappointment, the Welshman was getting back up to speed and delivered a number of competitive stage times behind the wheel of his Fiesta RS WRC.

Continuously identifying areas for improvement, he and co-driver Daniel Barritt are gradually regaining their true speed and currently hold a strong fifth place with one day of rallying left to run.

Elfyn Evans (5th) said:

“After the issues we had on Friday I definitely didn’t expect to be in the top-five this evening. Obviously a lot of drivers have had issues, but we’ve also had a much better feeling in the car. We’re still not 100 percent where we want to be, but with nothing to fight for and a lot of new stages there wasn’t a lot of point in taking any big risks.

“I think there have been points where we have shown good speed today which was a big improvement on yesterday. Of course there are another 45 kilometres left to run, but if we can continue like this then we can move onto Poland in a positive frame of mind.”

Ott Tänak (16th) said:

“In the middle of the stage [SS17] after a jump we got caught between the gears and then got stuck in sixth gear. I couldn’t down-shift and as there was still a long way to go, including a steep uphill, there really was no chance of making it through and we had to stop.

“Of course it’s disappointing because we were on course for a strong result, but there are definitely a lot of positives to take away from this weekend. We were struggling with the rhythm yesterday but we managed to improve a lot which shows how much we have learnt. Also I made a couple of small mistakes this morning but generally we had really good pace and were able to keep up with the leaders.

“We can see what level we should be at soon, but there is still some work to do. We just have to keep fighting and push even harder in Poland. I’m actually feeling really good ahead of Poland and Finland. The roughest part of the season is almost over and the next events are more driver-friendly which I’m really looking forward to.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“It goes without saying that the whole team are all immensely disappointed for Ott [Tänak] and Raigo [Mõlder, co-driver]. This has been one of their best ever performances and the speed they were able to set without being 100 percent comfortable was highly impressive.

“It looks as though he was very unlucky – a heavy landing after a jump which damaged the transmission mechanisms. I know he will be disappointed, but he’ll be back out tomorrow and should not dwell on the events of today.

“By contrast, Elfyn [Evans] has had a much better day. He has regained some confidence and although he hasn’t quite found the rhythm he had earlier in the season, he’s gradually regaining his true pace.

“He knows how punishing these stages can be and has stormed through the field as a result. He’s currently holding fifth place which I think he will be happy with considering Friday’s time loss and also sees the team set to take a good haul of points.”


It was a great day for the Ford Fiesta in the FIA World Rally Championship’s premier support series as Yurii Protasov stormed into the lead of the WRC 2 category.

The Ukrainian is also holding a strong seventh place overall which could become the best overall performance from a WRC 2 competitor this year.

In addition to this, the Fiesta secured six out of a possible nine stage wins – highlighting the strength of the Fiesta range.

Yurii Protasov (1st) said:

“We have been able to push all day and I am really happy to be in this position. We probably eased off a little too much on the last stage, but we only lost 20 seconds and gained two minutes throughout the day so I am still really happy. We’ll keep pushing tomorrow and hope to bring this result home.”

M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“It was great to see the strength and depth of the Fiesta range in the WRC 2 category today. Yurii [Protasov] has done a fantastic job climbing from fourth to first and his seventh place overall could prove to be the best result for a WRC 2 competition this year. The Fiesta has also shown its speed – claiming six out of a possible nine stage wins today.”


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