DMACK World Rally Team's Ott Tanak has retired from Rally Finland after going off the road in SS22 while pushing for third.
Tanak, who look set to win in Poland last time out until a puncture in the penultimate test, began the final day 9.1secs off Craig Breen and after going quickest in SS21, he almost halved the gap to 4.8secs.
However, the Estonian then crashed 3.35km into the next test, when he went off into a ditch after a crest on a right-hand bend. Rally leader Kris Meeke described the accident as a “big, big one” when he completed SS22, but luckily Tanak and co-driver Raigo Molder are both okay.
“Unfortunately our rally is over,” the Fiesta RS WRC pilot tweeted later. “We were pushing to get the podium and hit a big, big stone.”
Tanak had held the joint lead after the short opening super special on Thursday night and was then battling with Meeke on Friday until a suspension issue in Surkee (SS5) dropped him back from P2 to P10.
He also suffered a puncture on the repeat-run through Surkee (SS10) - and on Saturday in SS15 -, but continued to fight back, winning six stages and posting six more top-three times in total to haul himself back to fourth overall before his exit.
“Once again we've shown a top pace and been able to set top times on the fastest event of the season, but a few problems have stopped us from challenging for the victory, even though we pushed to the maximum all weekend. We had prepared really well for this rally and put in so much work before hand,” Tanak added.
Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, believes the manufacturer has demonstrated good potential over the last two events.
“We have once again proved the performance of our new tyres. If we didn't have the broken suspension, which put Ott under pressure to play catch-up, then we could have possibly been fighting for the win again. We had a strategy at the start of the season to target Poland and Finland with the new gravel tyre so we've certainly achieved that and have demonstrated a major leap forward in performance,” he concluded.