Estonian racer Ott Tänak has a long history both in the world of rally racing and with Ford, having signed a five-year deal with the automaker back in 2011 and moving on to compete with the M-Sport Ford team in the World Rally Championship (WRC). After moving around a bit and spending time with Subaru and Toyota, he went on to win the 2019 WRC Championship, then signed a two-year deal with Hyundai before returning to M-Sport Ford this year in a bit of a homecoming. However, that match will apparently be short-lived, as M-Sport Ford and Tänak have mutually agreed to part ways at the end of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship.
Tänak has enjoyed some success with the M-Sport Ford team this season, racking up 29 stage wins in 11 events and piloting his Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1 to a win at Rally Sweden earlier this year and an overall victory at Rally Chile just last week. By mid-season, Tänak and his co-driver Martin Järveoja were still in the running for a title, but some unfortunate events in recent races have essentially taken them out of contention with two races to go, after which the team can look ahead to the 2024 season.
“It has been a pleasure to work with Ott and Martin this season, a lot of work went into making the dream of getting them back to M-Sport a reality,” said M-Sport Team Principal Richard Millener. “Unfortunately, sometimes things just don’t go as you hoped, and their decision to leave the team at the end of the season is a consequence we need to accept, whilst now thinking towards what we can achieve for 2024.”
“This year has gone by so fast together with M-Sport Ford WRT,” Tänak added. “I’m proud we have managed to win two rallies against such big manufacturers and we were able to be in the championship fight for the first part of the season. But this sport is tough and unfortunately we went down a few times too many, nevertheless all the people really tried hard to give us the best chances and I’m very grateful for them! I wish all the best to the whole M-Sport family for the upcoming seasons and hopefully we’ll have some good fights ahead of us.”