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Tänak criticizes the points allocation system in the WRC

Ott Tanak, Rally del Portogallo 2024

Tänak’s return to the podium is a positive sign for the Hyundai team, which has worked hard to provide the Estonian driver with the best possible car to compete against Toyota and other teams in the World Rally Championship.

The 2019 world champion kicked off his season last weekend, putting an end to a podium drought in 2024 after narrowly missing out on victory in an intense battle with Toyota’s Sebastien Ogier. Prior to Portugal, Ott Tänak had struggled to find his form since returning to Hyundai this year, marked by errors in the season opener in Monte Carlo and in Sweden, followed by an unfortunate incident in Kenya.

Finding the sweet spot in the i20 N proved to be a challenge in Croatia and again in Portugal, although Tänak managed to make progress and overcome issues last weekend to challenge Ogier. Tänak briefly led the rally on Saturday before a slow puncture in stage 13 handed the advantage back to the Frenchman, who crossed the finish line with a margin of 7.9 seconds. Although Tänak admits to not feeling 100% comfortable behind the wheel of the Hyundai, he is making strides.

“I would say we could have won without the puncture. If I would have taken 13 or 15 seconds of a gap then we would have been there. Obviously Seb was pushing really hard, so I would say he definitely didn’t slow down for that,” Tänak said.

Tänak’s return to the podium is a positive sign for the Hyundai team, which has worked hard to provide the Estonian driver with the best possible car to compete against Toyota and other teams in the World Rally Championship. As the season heats up, rally fans can expect increasingly fierce competition among the world’s top drivers, with Tänak ready to once again showcase his skill and determination in pursuit of victory.

“The result is not so bad, it’s just very unlucky this phase with the tire, the slow puncture, otherwise I would say it was quite positive. On Friday, we were struggling but I was slowly getting used to the car and on Sunday in the Power Stage I tried to push, but it was not working anymore and I made too many mistakes. As long as I could keep a bit of margin, I managed, especially on the second loop, when the roads were a bit more rutted and when I could lean on the ruts, I was pretty good. Let’s say we are not in a point with the car where I have the speed of the others, but at least we are not far off and if we keep pushing, we should be in the fight,” Tänak commented.

Although Tänak missed out on victory, he scored 26 points, one more than rally winner Ogier thanks to the new championship points structure. The points haul elevated Tänak to third place in the championship, 31 points behind Hyundai teammate Thierry Neuville.

“Just like in Croatia, everyone still scored the same points. You can do whatever you want, but this points system is like being in kindergarten, and there’s a thumbs up for everyone and a thank you for coming,” Tänak remarked.

Tänak’s comment on the points system highlights a persistent issue in the rally world: the need for a scoring system that better reflects individual performances and the level of competitiveness in the sport. While the new points system has brought about some changes, challenges remain in finding a balance between rewarding success and consistency in keeping the competition engaging for all drivers and teams.

For Tänak and the Hyundai team, the goal now is to capitalize on the progress made and continue to improve, working towards the next stage of the championship with determination and confidence.