Ott Tanak and M-Sport part ways

Ott Tanak and M-Sport part ways

The M-Sport Ford World Rally Team and Ott Tänak have mutually agreed to end their partnership at the conclusion of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship.

Tänak and M-Sport have won 29 stages through the 11 rounds of the 2023 WRC season, all of which have highlighted the success of the Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1 and its status as the best rally car in the modern era.

Undoubtedly, the two most notable moments have been the incredible triumph at Rally Chile a few days ago and the outstanding victory on snow and ice at Rally Sweden, which was Tänak’s second outing with the squad.

Tänak had a strong start to the season, finishing fifth overall in the Puma Hybrid Rally1 on his first outing. Tänak’s outstanding display of driving prowess helped the team prevail in Sweden, giving them the victory and the championship lead that they had aimed for from the start.

Two rounds later, in Croatia, the team was battling for victory once more. With the race for the championship still a viable possibility, Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja worked together to solidify a strong second place with a total of 10 top-three finishes, including two stage victories.

Tänak and Järveoja were third in the rankings and still in the running for the championship at this point in the season, but bad luck in the middle of the campaign dashed the possibility of a second world championship win.

“This year has gone by so fast together with M-Sport Ford WRT,” Ott Tanak said. “I’m proud we have managed to win two rallies against such big manufacturers and we were able to be in the championship fight for the first part of the season.

“But this sport is tough and unfortunately we went down a few times too many, nevertheless all the people really tried hard to give us the best chances and I’m very grateful for them.

“I wish all the best to the whole M-Sport family for the upcoming seasons and hopefully we’ll have some good fights ahead of us.”

Regardless of the failures, the team can still be proud of the fact that it consistently battles with other manufacturers, as seen in the most recent FIA World Rally Championship event.

There are still two rounds of the 2023 season left to compete in before shifting attention to 2024, and the team’s goals remain untouched – they will approach the brand-new Central Europe tournament and Japan with the same determination, emotion, and enthusiasm as they have in the past.

“Firstly I would like to thank Ott and Martin for their efforts this season,” M-Sport Chairman, Malcolm Wilson said. “Looking back, the season started so well, fifth overall in Monte Carlo (and Ott’s best finish there in the new Rally1 cars), followed by a victory in Sweden.

“We had a tough spell after this, and despite their incredible result in Chile, the year we all dreamt of just hasn’t come to fruition.

“It is obviously very disappointing for me personally to see Ott depart after only one season, but I wish him all the best.

“I would like to also thank every member of the team who has worked day in, day out giving their all to the program, their work ethic never fails to impress me through both the good times and the difficult times, they are all a true asset to M-Sport.”

The team will now devote all of its attention to finding an appropriate plan that will enable it to continue contending in the WRC’s premier class.

The team has fostered some of the top drivers in the sport over the past 20 years, drafting, supporting, and developing the next round of Rally1 talent.

Every WRC event winner over the last 20 years has at some stage been a member of the M-Sport squad, demonstrating the organization’s success in developing talent.

This has provided the Cumbrian-based enterprise with an enormous supply of information, expertise, and inspiration that it works to impart to the WRC’s future workforce.

M-Sport maintains that shifting the team’s attention back to this strategy will be essential for its long-term growth.

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