Despite having won the previous two editions Rally Finland then driving for Toyota, the 2019 WRC champion is not regarded as the favourite to triumph at the 70th edition of famous event.
That tag belongs to Toyota which will field five Yaris WRC entries that have been developed on the Finnish gravel roads. This weekend 2017 Rally Finland winner Esapekka Lappi joins the ranks alongside rally favourite Kalle Rovanpera, championship leader Sebastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta.
After winning in Estonia and last time out at the Acropolis, Rovanpera heads to his homeland as the man to beat and with the Yaris undefeated at Rally Finland, Tanak is aware it will take a huge effort to beat Toyota this weekend.
“I’m pretty confident if we want to challenge the Toyotas we need to drive quite hard and throw everything in,” said Tanak.
“They have always been dominating here and really strong. For sure, we have been doing a lot over the last two years to improve the speed but with these guys it is never easy in Finland.
“The Hyundais were a bit down the last couple of times we have been here but there has been one year missed in between, so for sure the team has been working to improve the speed on these type of roads.
“The Toyotas are really the favourite here so we hope to make their lives as tough as possible.”
Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Photo by: Austral / Hyundai Motorsport
It is a view shared by Hyundai teammate Craig Breen, but having finished second on fast gravel roads in Estonia, he’s confident Hyundai can take the fight to Toyota.
“For sure we will try. There is no point giving up before we’ve started,” said Breen.
“They [Toyota] will be strong and have good experience here but let’s see what we can do.
“I’m curious to see how the car will be as we have made some big improvements from the last time we were here in 2019. Estonia and Arctic and rallies like this, the car is now performing at a good level. Let’s see.”
Rally Finland begins on Friday with six special stages concluding with the event’s first night test since 1994.