Chassis damage rules Hyundai's Tanak out of WRC Rally Spain

Ott Tanak will sit out the remaining stages of Rally Spain after Hyundai Motorsport confirmed it was unable to repair the 2019 World Rally champion’s damaged car.

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Tanak crashed out of the penultimate round of the World Rally Championship after a high-speed incident on stage four while occupying sixth position.

The Estonian misjudged a section of the Tarmac road and clattered into a tree stump, which has damaged the chassis of the i20 Coupe.

The crash was the second high-profile moment Tanak suffered on the opening day of the event coming two stages after luckily escaping a wild spin on stage two, which dropped Tanak from fourth to sixth on the leaderboard.

“It has been a day of unpleasant surprises,” said Tanak. “This morning, in SS2, we had quite an impressive spin, and then at the start of the afternoon loop we went off and had to retire the car.

“We hit a tree stump, which caused damage to the car that is unfortunately irreparable. It was quite an impact, so we were probably carrying too much speed into the corner.

“We locked the wheel a bit, and together with the dirt, we couldn’t save it. Martin [Jarveoja, co-driver] and I are both fine; we weren’t really over the limit, so it came a bit out of the blue.”

Tanak was not the only driver to suffer drama on the Spanish roads after Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta misunderstood a pacenote and ploughed into the barriers on the opening stage.

While the Japanese driver’s Yaris sustained heavy damage to the front left, Toyota has been able to repair the car to allow Katsuta to return to action on Saturday.

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville leads the rally after the first day with the Belgian holding a slender 0.7-second lead over Toyota’s Elfyn Evans with championship leader Sebastien Ogier 19.4s adrift in third.

Neuville swept the afternoon loop winning all three stages after initially struggling with understeer on the morning run.

“I am feeling more comfortable in the car this afternoon,” said Neuville. “We experienced a lot of understeer on the morning loop, and I felt that I was pushing the car through rather than driving it.

“On the twisty roads, I felt I could have gone faster but I wasn’t able to get the car to turn in. Tomorrow, we have a different profile of stages, more flowing and I hope they will suit us better.

“We are going to do all we can to stay in the fight with Elfyn, who had a great start to the rally. It acted as a wake-up call for us, but now we’re back in the game.”

Rally Spain continues on Saturday with crews set to face seven stages.

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