A chat with Ott Tanak

Ahead of his debut in the Ford Fiesta RS WRC at Wales Rally GB this month, Estonia’s Ott Tänak (24) took time out of his busy schedule to speak about his chances at the event and to tell us a little bit about himself.

The runner-up at this year’s Super 2000 World Rally Championship (S-WRC) will contest the event alongside co-driver Kuldar Sikk in the M-Sport run car at the final round of this year’s FIA World Rally Championship.

Q: Hi Ott, can you please tell us a bit about your rallying history and how you first got into motorsport?

Ott Tanak (OT): My father was driving at national level from 1988-2003 so it was quite an easy choice for me. In the beginning I competed in some junior rallies and a few rallycross events but I started in 2004 with proper rallies. Until 2007 I was driving a VW Golf Mk2 and then I did one year with a Renault Clio. After that I started to work with Markko [Märtin] who has helped me progress to the world rallying scene.

Q: You’ve already tried the Ford Fiesta RS WRC at M-Sport – how did you like the car?

OTT: For sure it’s a lot faster with a turbocharger! So far I have most of the experience from asphalt but I’m really happy with my Ford Fiesta S2000 on gravel so I am certain the Ford Fiesta RS WRC can only be better…

Q: What are your thoughts about Wales Rally GB, do you think it will be a good event for you?

OT: I competed at last year’s event in a Group N car so I have some idea of the roads and the conditions. I also know that it’s a really tricky event and it will not be easy. [Ott finished first in the Production Car World Rally Championship (P-WRC), at last year’s Wales Rally GB]

Q: What has been your best memory/highlight as a rally driver so far?

OT: This year’s Rally Italia Sardegna was good for me because we had our first win in the S-WRC with the Ford Fiesta S2000. [Ott was seventh overall and holds the record as the highest placed Ford Fiesta S2000 in a WRC event]

Q: What has been your worst moment?

OT: That’s an easy question to answer – it was definitely to lose our fight for victory in the S-WRC this year at Spain. To finish runner-up is the first loser!

Q: How is your relationship with Markko [Märtin?]

OT: We are good friends and he is also managing my rally programme. Markko has given me an insight into rallying on a different level and is doing a lot for me which I really appreciate.

Q: If you weren’t a rally driver what do you think you would be doing instead?

OT: For as long as I can remember I’ve had a passion for motorsport and I couldn’t imagine not working with motors of some sort! When I’m not rallying, I’m busy in a workshop so I’d imagine I’d probably be in some sort of mechanic job.

Q: What is your fitness regime like?

OT: I am working extremely hard at my fitness regime. I have a fitness trainer and we are mostly working in the gym but sometimes we go jogging and cycling too – they are good sports for sweating!

Q: Who is your motorsport idol?

OT: I have to say Markko Märtin as I have a great deal of respect for him. He was the first Estonian driver to win a world rally event and he has helped me realise my dream of becoming a World Champion could be possible. Markko has also done a lot for rallying in my country.

Q: Tell us a bit about your home life?

OT: My home is on an island called Saaremaa [Estonia] where we have a house. It’s very peaceful and we also have some pets including two horses so it’s a good place to relax.

Q: Favourite holiday destination?

OT: I travel all over with rallying so I’ve seen a lot of great places over the past few years. If I had to choose one I’d say is South Africa – it’s a very special place.

Q: Favourite food?

OT: I love traditional Estonian food which is mostly based on meat and potatoes so I’d have to say that potatoes and meat sauce is my favourite.

Q: Where do you aim to be in three years’ time?

OT: I’d like to be driving the fastest World Rally Car. I don’t know exactly where the future will take me but my ultimate dream is to fight for the world championship title!
– Credit: Information supplied by M-Sport.

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