Home' Motorsport Monday Africa : Issue 80 Contents New Toyota star Ott Tänak revealed in Monte
Carlo that he had effectively retired from
the WRC when he was first dropped by M-Sport.
The Estonian was shown the door by Malcolm
Wilson’s team after a turbulent 2012 season and
has admitted that, at that point, he turned his
back on the WRC.
“In 2013 I had no plans to come back,” he said.
“I was retired and finished. I started my own
company, I started my new job. Let’s say I was
not pushing to come back. I drove a Group N car
at home, but I did it for fun. This is an expensive
sport and at the top level I knew it wasn’t
possible just to do it a bit, so I had no plans. But
somehow we got some new opportunities, some
new chances and then it came back.”
He was given a career lifeline in 2014 by M-Sport
and DMACK with a partial programme. Success
there led to his being reinstated in to the main
M-Sport team the following year. Though he
was demoted back to the satellite DMACK car
for 2016, he earned another frontline M-Sport
chance last year and for the first time became a
WRC event winner and outside title contender.
Then he accepted the offer from Toyota. His
second place finish in the Yaris on this year’s
Monte Carlo Rally was the first time he had
driven a non-M -Sport car on a WRC round since
winning the Production WRC in a Pirelli Star
Driver Lancer Evo X on Rally GB 2010.
Former World Rally Champion Petter Solberg
says he is chasing a return to the series after
testing VW’s new Polo R5 car recently. The 2003
champ completed almost 200 miles of running
in northern Sweden and then said he intended
to contest a full WRC round for the first time
“Honestly, the car was fantastic. It was really
nice to drive, really predictable and easy to drive
- this is so important for the R5 car,” said the
Norwegian, who has twice won the FIA World
RX Championship since 2013. “Now I have done
the test in that car, I really want to drive one
in competition. I don’t know when it might be
possible and we didn’t really talk about it yet
with VW but I would love to do that.”
Solberg has not driven in the WRC since he left
Ford’s factory team five years ago. However, he
has taken three Rally Sweden Historic class wins
in an Escort RS1800 and helps his 16-year-old
son, Oliver, develop his own rally career. Solberg
Jr has been tipped for a WRC debut in Wales
this year and his father said he liked the idea of
competing on the same rally as his son.
“Maybe doing Rally GB would be good,” he
continued. “If Oliver does the event, it would be
a really nice story to be competing there as well.
“There’s always pressure if you are competing
in the world championship,” he said, denying
that competing in WRC2 would bring less
pressure than in the top class. “The competition
is good there anyway, but I would bring my own
pressure to myself.”
Before any potential Polo R5 outing, Solberg and
his wife Pernilla will be in his RS1800 for another
Rally Sweden Historic outing on February 16/17.
Plus Solberg’s PSRX team-mate - and defending
World RX champion - Johan Kristoffersson will
also compete in Sweden, driving a Skoda Fabia
“I WAS QUITTING THE SPORT IN 2013” SAID TÄNAK
SOLBERG WANTS TO RETURN IN AN R5 VW
New FIA rally chief Yves Matton could soon
come into conflict with the boss of his former
employer Citroen after PSA Group uber-boss
Carlos Tavares said the governing boss should
change the rules over driver nominations.
Tavares said the rule allowing teams to
nominate three crews with the two highest
finishers taking manufacturer points was turning
the championship in to a boom and bust affair.
Regulations allowing team to nominate three
cars were brought back two years ago. Before
then only two cars per team could score points.
The teams themselves are split on this matter.
M-Sport understands the cost implications.
Toyota and Hyundai prefer the three-car
approach, especially the Korean manufacturer,
which has four drivers for its three-car entry
of i20 Coupes. Tavares has already contacted
the FIA to try to convince them to change the
regulation and added he would be continuing
such discussions with Matton.
“You are telling people, ‘If you want to come to
the championship, you have to bring three cars’,”
Tavares said. “You are increasing the entry costs
for newcomers in the championship. If they want
a chance of the championship they need three
cars from day one. That’s inflation and we know
bust comes after inflation. If we are sincere
about protecting our sport, we should say, ‘No,
that’s not the right way to do it. That’s creating
an entry cost which is higher, so somewhere in
the long run you are penalising the WRC’.”
WILL MATTON LOCK HORNS WITH PSA BOSS?
First time out in a
non M-Sport WR Car
for Tänak on Monte
Solberg has got his
WRC mojo back after
testing the Polo R5
Nandan (right) has
four drivers to pick
from, let alone two!
The Norwegian hasn’t
contested a round of the WRC
since he left Ford five years ago!
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