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european rally championship

Tanak's Warning For ERC Crews In Estonia

2019 world champion Ott Tänak provides local insights for competitors ahead of the fourth round of the ERC season.

Estonian hero Ott Tänak has told drivers new to his home round of the FIA European Rally Championship that this week’s Delfi Rally Estonia will be far from an easy ride.

The flat-out gravel contest forms part of the ERC schedule for the first time since 2016 and has attracted a star-studded entry list, including many event rookies.

While former world champion Tänak won’t be in contention for a record-extending fifth win – his choice of Hyundai i20 N Rally1 as part of his Tet Rally Latvia preparations makes him ineligible for the main ERC event – he’s been happy to pass on his knowledge to European rallying’s elite.

“Rally Estonia is something you need to experience to understand it, without experience it’s a bit tricky,” the 36-year-old said. “Normally for the first loop the stages are very, very smooth. But for the second loop it can get very rough and it can change a lot from stage to stage.

“It’s a bit better to start later [on the road] because it’s always cleaning but it depends a lot on the weather and at this time in Estonia the weather can change very quickly, even though it’s very warm at the moment.”

Delfi Rally Estonia, which takes place from 5 - 7 July between the cities of Tartu and Otepää, brings the ERC back to the country for the first time since 2016 and provides another high-speed gravel test following last month’s fast-paced BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia.

Apart from the Qualifying Stage and the Elva super special stage, the 14th Rally Estonia covers familiar territory compared to the WRC-counting 2023 edition, with the majority of the stages tweaked versions from 12 months ago.

After three action-packed rounds, Michelin-supported Mathieu Franceschi (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) and defending ERC champion Hayden Paddon, who pilots a Hyundai i20 N Rally2 on Pirelli tyres, are equal first on points.

In addition to the ERC’s current top two, a host of other rapid rally drivers are getting ready to pounce. Among them are several local talents including former Junior WRC champion Robert Virves and WRC2 regular Georg Linnamaë.

Fresh from his Poland heroics, where he placed fifth overall on his Rally1 debut, Mārtiṇš Sesks is back on ERC duty in his MRF Tyres-equipped Toyota GR Yaris Rally2. The Latvian will be fired up for Estonia success as he bids for his first ERC win of the season.

Škoda-driving Simone Tempestini continues to build on the momentum generated by his V-Híd Rally Hungary victory in April, while Mads Østberg (Citroën C3 Rally2) is a double Rally Estonia winner. Nikolay Gryazin is also Citroën-powered and has won in the ERC five times.

Miko Marczyk is another driver to watch as are Jon Armstrong, Mikko Heikkilä – a podium finisher on the last round in Sweden – Frank Tore Larsen and Andrea Mabellini.

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