Driver of the Rally
It’s hard to look anywhere but to rally winner Ott Tänak. He came to the event with a clear strategy of avoiding mistakes, in the knowledge that if he achieved that he would be there or thereabouts come Sunday afternoon’s podium ceremony.
‘A clean run’ was Ott’s most frequently-used phrase as he stayed true to his word. While he was unquestionably on the limit in a ferocious duel with Thierry Neuville, there was always the feeling he would never risk going beyond that point in his quest for victory.
Already playing the percentage game in his bid for a maiden world title? Maybe, but the Estonian was still quick enough, composed enough and smart enough to win.
You’ll Never Believe It
Toyota Gazoo Racing’s clean sweep of the podium was the Japanese manufacturer’s first since the 1993 Safari Rally. On that occasion it was actually a 1-2-3-4 as Juha Kankkunen led home Markku Alén, local hero Ian Duncan and Yasuhiro Iwase.
Save of the Rally
Saturday’s afternoon’s puncture destroyed Neuville’s hopes of victory but the amazing work of he and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul prevented a problem becoming a disaster. A tyre change in 1min 15sec was sensational work and allowed Hyundai Motorsport to shuffle their pack during final service and ensure the Belgians finished fourth. Not ideal, but a great rescue nevertheless.
Stage of the Rally
Thursday night’s opening St Wendeler Land speed test was a conventional special stage over country roads close to the Bostalsee service park. Great to start the rally with a ‘proper’ stage and a vast improvement on last year’s curtain-raiser in Wendelinus park, on the outskirts of St Wendel, which got the thumbs down from most people.