M-Sport elected to field a Ford Puma Rally1 for new signing Tanak at the Otepaa Winter Rally, in addition to a pre-event test in Ostersund, Sweden, to prepare for the WRC’s only snow rally of the season, which begins on Thursday.
Tanak spent the majority of the WRC season opener in Monte Carlo adjusting to the Puma following his off-season move from Hyundai.
The 2019 world champion ended the rally, having competed only one and a half days in the car, in fifth, while also finishing second on the Powerstage to earn four bonus points.
Speaking to Motorsport.com in Monte Carlo, Tanak affirmed that “there are many things required” and “quite a big job to do” to be able to challenge the front runners.
With the FIA restricting WRC teams to 21 days of testing this season to reduce costs, M-Sport, Hyundai and Toyota all chose to contest national rallies in Estonia and Finland to recover the lost test mileage.
Tanak claimed victory on the snow-covered roads in Otepaa after clean sweeping the eight stages last Saturday. The 35-year-old believes the outing will prove to be vital ahead of Rally Sweden this weekend.
Ott Tänak, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1
Photo by: M-Sport
“It was generally necessary to be here to do all these stages,” said Tanak.
“We experienced so many different conditions. It was quite a tough rally as at the beginning of the week we had no snow and then we had a bit too much.
“It was quite demanding and in these tricky conditions you can really feel the car, so it was quite important to do the rally.
“We need to be ready [for Sweden]. This was the last practice and now I need to go for it. Sweden is always a specific one and first time in the car, so it was necessary to do this.”
Tanak, a previous Sweden winner in 2019, was in contention for victory last year before his Hyundai suffered a hybrid unit failure that forced him into a retirement.
This weekend Tanak will start the snow rally sitting fourth on the road.