Tanak keen to unlock Puma's Tarmac potential in Ardennes

Ott Tanak reckons the best is yet to come from M-Sport Ford’s Puma Rally1 car, especially when it comes to challenging for top honours on Tarmac rounds of the 2023 World Rally Championship.
Tanak keen to unlock Puma's Tarmac potential in Ardennes

Tanak and co-driver Martin Jarveoja opened their account at January’s Rallye Monte-Carlo – a mixture of asphalt, gravel and ice – with a fifth-place result but are desperate to improve on that going into next month’s Croatia Rally (April 20th-23rd) with the support of the British squad’s engineers.

To expedite the process, the Estonian team-mates will perform course car duties on this weekend’s Rallye des Ardennes in south eastern Belgium. There, they can look forward to getting their teeth stuck into 12 closed-road special stages totalling 144 kilometres on what is round three of the Belgian Championship.

All parties consider it an important exercise as the data could help them in their quest to retake the lead of the World Rally Championship having lost it last time out to Sebastien Ogier in Mexico.

“It is good preparation for Croatia – some extra seat time in the Puma for Tarmac,” said Tanak. “The roads are not so different to Croatia. In fact, they actually look quite nice, especially the forest sections. They are flowing and fast in places, so I think – for sure – it is going to be demanding.

“There are quite many surface changes and it is a bit wet as well. Altogether I guess it will make it quite tricky. For sure, we will drive our own rhythm and just use the event to get extra time in the car and get the extra mileage – we will drive at our normal speed.

“We will play a bit with the set-up to see which direction we should go to give us some idea for Croatia,” added the 2019 champion.

Tanak - who came home second in Croatia last year - said that while his Monte performance was a solid foundation on which to build, an abundance of time to perfect the Puma Rally1 was not something he had.

“In Monte we were not in our best shape, so that is why it is necessary to get the extra mileage from here,” he said.

“For sure, we have been working a bit after Monte, to improve, to get some extra performance, so we’ll see here which direction we’ve been going and what we need to do.

“So far it [testing] has been good – we are not so far away – but we know that we have a lot [of performance] to come, so we just need to hurry up and work as efficiently as possible to make everything work. If we do, then hopefully we will be up to speed soon.”

In addition to his appearance at, Tanak will also take part in M-Sport's pre-Croatia Rally test in the coming days.

This will take place close to the stages being used for the fourth round of the World Rally Championship around Zagreb - the countrys capital city.



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