In his final event with M-Sport before moving to Toyota Gazoo Racing for the 2018 World Rally Championship, Ott Tanak heads into the final day of the 2017 season in third place overall in the Kennards Hire Rally Australia.
Tanak is just ahead of Citroen Racing’s Craig Breen and just behind Toyota’s Jari Matti Latvala having taken victory in SS16. Speaking following the day’s action, Tanak said:
Overall I think it’s been a much more positive day than yesterday. We’ve had a much better feeling in the car and managed to improve the confidence and the driving. We had a big push in the afternoon, and to be back on the podium is a good thing.
“There are some more tricky stages tomorrow so we need to keep focused, but hopefully we can finish the year with another top-three result for the team.
Following stage 16, World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier is in sixth place overall and speaking following his day he commented by saying:
This has not really been our rally but I suppose it’s better to deal with all these issues in one weekend than to deal with them separately over the season!
“We were hoping to try for some strong times through this afternoon’s loop but immediately after service we heard a noise on the rear. There was some damage and that altered the balance of the car. The end of the stage [SS12] was really slippery and in a fast, down-hill corner we had some massive understeer, hit a bank and spun.
“It’s just been about getting though the stages this afternoon, but tomorrow could be interesting with the weather. There are some really tricky stages and, if it’s wet, you never know. The rally isn’t over until it’s over so we have to keep going.
Elfyn Evans is currently in 8th place overall for DMAC Tires, the Welshman suffered a lack of traction however this hasn’t stopped the team from pushing forward. Speaking following the action, Evans commented by saying:
We knew that we would struggle coming to this one, and we faced another tough day today. I really enjoy these stages, but we just didn’t have the traction to attack and enjoy them to the fullest. That said, we’ve made it through all of the stages and perfected the notes which will be valuable for the future.
M-Sport Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE commented by saying:
With Ott and Martin climbing into third place we’re on course to secure our goal for the weekend. We knew that we would face a challenging rally here, so if we could come away with a podium it would be a great end to a fantastic season.
“There are still some challenging stages to come and we can’t afford to lose focus. Twenty seconds is generally considered to be a fairly safe gap, but if the weather comes into play it could really mix things up – and there’s the potential for anything to happen tomorrow.