Ott Tänak became the first Estonian to win the FIA World Rally Championship in a tense finale to Spain’s Rally RACC Catalunya – Rally de España on Sunday afternoon.
He snatched second place in the closing Wolf Power Stage to secure the 2019 crown with a round to spare, ending a 15-year French domination by the sport’s most successful drivers, Sébastiens Loeb and Ogier.
It is Toyota’s first drivers’ title since Didier Auriol won in 1994 and follows the Japanese squad’s manufacturers’ championship success last year.
Tänak started the final asphalt speed test in third place. He needed to finish no lower than one position behind leader Thierry Neuville in the final bonus points-paying stage to prevent the Belgian carrying the fight into next month’s Australian finale.
He didn’t require the bonus points, sweeping past home hero Dani Sordo to claim second place in a Toyota Yaris and spark wild celebrations among the Estonian fans. He finished 17.2sec behind Neuville’s Hyundai i20, with Sordo, in another i20, a further 0.4sec adrift.
Ott Tanak (EST) Martin Jarveoja (EST) of team Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT celebrate the world title on day 4 during the World Rally Championship Spain in Salou, Spain on October 27, 2019
© Image Jaanus Ree of Red Bull Content Pool