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WRC Rally Italy

M-Sport explains “difficult to swallow” Tanak WRC Sardinia retirement

An electrical system shutdown has resulted in Ott Tanak retiring from Rally Sardinia, which the M-Sport World Rally Championship team has labelled as “difficult to swallow”.

Ott Tänak, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

Tanak’s Ford Puma initially ground to a halt after running through a water splash in sight of the finish on stage 10. The 2019 world champion lost 20 seconds as the car stalled, although he was able to engage EV mode briefly to finish the stage.

Once across the finish line the Puma suffered a complete electrical system blackout caused by water entering the car.

Tanak was sitting in sixth position and would have likely climbed to fifth had he continued as Toyota’s Elfyn Evans also lost time to damage caused in another water splash in the same stage.

 

Tanak attempted to fix the problem in a road section but was unable to revive the car.

“It is difficult to know [what was damaged]. We were not able to get it [the car] alive again and it was a bit of a surprise,” said Tanak.

“Clearly we got some water in the engine and we somehow did some damage to the electrical components as well. Basically we blacked out and we had no electric power.

“We didn’t have any water over the bonnet and we didn’t put the splitter in the water so everything was perfect. It seems like some other way which we got the water in and did some damage. I’m not sure if it is unlucky but it wasn’t needed.”

Tanak’s exit followed the retirement of team-mate Pierre-Louis Loubet earlier this morning after M-Sport confirmed they were unable to repair damage incurred from a crash in stage seven on Friday evening.

"It is hard. The retirement of Pierre-Louis was unexpected and difficult to get over but sometimes these things happen,” M-Sport team principal Rich Millener told Motorsport.com.

“It is a really tricky rally and it has been shown already there is a lot going on. It just happens to be that both of our cars have had issues.

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

"This morning it was really difficult to see Ott stop after a water splash. I don’t believe he drove through there in a way that would have caused any damage but obviously some sort of water ingress has caused an electrical system to shut down.

"He tried his best and everything we can think of but at the moment we don’t know what it is. We have got four hours to have a look and see what we can do.

“You can’t help but be disappointed by what has happened. You have to go through the bad times to get to the good times and we have had worse times than this. We know we are still competitive.

"It is a tough to swallow but these are the ones that make you stronger.”

Tanak wasn’t the only driver to encounter problems in water splashes as Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta was forced to retire after damaging his car passing through a deep water splash in the morning’s first stage.

Millener doesn’t believe the water splashes at the rally this weekend are too severe after witnessing three drivers hit trouble driving through water crossings, that have become deeper following rain showers during the week.

“No they are not too severe,” he added. “It is just the different ways that drivers approach it.

“If everyone retired on the same water splash then maybe you could argue the case. I don’t think the rally is too severe.”

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