Ott Tänak sliding in the sand in Porto
© Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool
WRC

WRC title on the line for Tänak in Spain but Ogier not giving up yet

World Rally Championship leader Ott Tänak can make history this weekend at the RallyRACC Catalunya with a maiden world title within touching distance.
Written by Matt Majendie
Published on
The Estonian needs to extend his 28-point advantage in the title race to 30 over the course of the weekend to wrap up the championship over closest challenger Sébastien Ogier, with Thierry Neuville a further 13 points adrift.
And Tänak, who would be the first man from his country to ever win the WRC title, said: “I guess the focus will be on me but, at the same time, Seb and Thierry have to go all-out. There’s no doubt about that from their side. For me, there’s no need to risk everything.
“I don’t need to do anything if the feeling isn’t there. If I’m comfortable with the car then I’m sure we can make the fight, but let’s see how it goes.
“We’ll focus on ourselves and do all we can. If it takes more than that, then there’s no need to push it. If we don’t do it here, we can take the fight to Australia.”
Ott Tänak
The form book would suggest Tänak will wrap up the title before the season finale in Australia having won four of the last five rounds in the championship.
"We’ll be chasing it with everything we have to give.”
Sébastien Ogier
But there is understandable caution having come close to a first title win last year only to crash into a tree on the final morning of the season in Australia.
While mathematically still in the title race, six-time champion Ogier believes his own title defence is merely hanging by a thread but is still driven to close the gap on Tänak.
“We’re obliged to come up with a result if we want to keep our hopes alive,” he said. “Even if our chances in the championship are now thin, as long as there’s a mathematical possibility, we’ll be chasing it with everything we have to give.”
The manufacturers’ crown could also be decided in Spain, although a conclusion is less likely. Hyundai Motorsport’s diminishing lead over Toyota Gazoo Racing is down to eight points and the Korean squad requires a 44-point lead to claim the title.
Hyundai restores nine-time champion Sébastien Loeb to its line-up, hoping the Frenchman can display the same pace that carried him to victory 12 months ago.
The Salou-based rally starts on Friday morning. A day of gravel speed tests is followed by two days of smooth asphalt roads, similar in nature to a race circuit. The event finishes on Sunday afternoon after 17 stages covering 325.56km.
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