M-Sport has the data to tackle «big job» of developing Puma WRC

The 2019 world champion once again showed flashes of speed during last weekend’s WRC round in Portugal, but ultimately finished fourth, 2m04.1s adrift of the eventual winner Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera.

The event was Tanak’s second on gravel following Mexico where a turbo issue was among the problems that halted his charge.

Last weekend the Estonian displayed impressive pace through the first pass of stages, leading the rally after stage three, before a tyre came off the rim during stage four, which cost him 54.1s and the rally lead.

Tanak likened his car to a «wooden horse» at times and struggled to find the sweet spot on the second passes through stages, before losing hybrid power on the final day.

Luckily, the system returned for the Power stage allowing him to claim four bonus points to slot into second in the standings, 17 points behind Rovanpera.

Now with two gravel rallies under his belt ahead of six consecutive events on loose gravel, Tanak believes his team now has all the data to improve the Puma.

«There is a big job to do and overall it was a demanding weekend. I have been struggling quite hard now, it is about understanding how we go on from here,» said Tanak.

«It is my second gravel rally and in Mexico, I was not completely confident with what I was feeling because we had quite a bit of technical trouble there, so it was difficult to understand what was missing or what was happening.

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: Red Bull Content Pool

«But I would say this weekend gave us a lot more understanding and I would say they [the engineers] should have enough information that we could go on from here.

«When it is smoother we can drive, let’s say not great but on okay level, but when it gets rough we are missing in quite a big way.

«Last year it would have been a good position to be in and a good starting point but obviously one year has passed and everybody is on a good level and we are behind. It is a big job to do in a short time.»

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Tanak revealed that the Puma has improved since Mexico with developments made to the transmission, although the team were unable to bring further updates for Portugal.

The team had tested a modified rear wing during its Portugal pre-event test.

«Since Mexico we have had a transmission upgrade so this is helping, but like I said before the rally we have not been able to bring any new components to the car which we have been working for. Obviously, there is quite a bit to do still,» he added.

The WRC will head to the rough gravel roads of Sardinia for the sixth round of the championship next month.

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