Ott Tänak and the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team have arrived at the mutual decision to conclude their partnership at the end of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship.
Tänak and M-Sport have had many moments to celebrate in 2023 so far – 29 stage wins to date, across 11 events, all highlighting the performance of the Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1 and its position as a world-leading rally car.
Of course, the greatest highlights have been the sublime victory at Rally Chile just days ago and a superlative snow and ice win on what was Tänak’s second outing with the team at Rally Sweden.
The season began with competitive form, delivering fifth overall for Tänak on his maiden outing in the Puma Hybrid Rally1. The team excelled in Sweden through a supreme show of driving ability from Tänak, who fought off the competition to deliver victory alongside the championship lead – which had been the team’s aim from the outset.
Just two rounds later the team were pushing for victory again, this time in Croatia. A total of ten top-three times, including two stage wins, from Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja helped consolidate a strong second place with the fight for the championship still a realistic possibility.
Halfway through the season and Tänak and Järveoja were third in the standings, and still in with a chance of securing the championship; but misfortune through the middle of the season marred any hopes of a second world title.
Despite the setbacks, the team can hold its head up high – knowing that it has continuously taken the fight to the other manufacturers as demonstrated in the most recent round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
Before turning attentions to 2024, there are still two rounds of the 2023 season left to contest and the team’s ambitions remain unaffected – tackling the all-new Central Europe event and Japan with the same dedication, passion, and enthusiasm as shown to date.
The team now turns to fully focusing on ensuring it finds a suitable pathway that will allow it to continue to compete in the top class of the WRC.
Over the last 20 years the team has nurtured some of the sport’s best up and coming drivers – introducing, promoting, and developing the next generation of Rally1 talent.
M-Sport’s talent development is undisputed with every single WRC event winner from the past two decades at one point forming a part of the team. It has given the Cumbrian-based operation a huge pool of knowledge, experience, and inspiration that it strives to pass on to the WRC’s next generation.
M-Sport believes a re-focus towards this approach will be key to the continual long-term development of the team.
As the current partnership with Ott and Martin begins to close, M-Sport would like to thank them for their professionalism and dedication over not only this, but previous seasons enjoyed together – and wish them both all the very best in their future endeavours.
M-Sport Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“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. 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.
"I would however like to take the opportunity to thank everyone at M-Sport who has worked tirelessly to give their all into this project with Ott and Martin, their hard work was rewarded with two superb victories but even through misfortune they have never given up, which only goes to show their strength and determination. There are still two events left and our aim remains to deliver further top results.”
M-Sport Chairman, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“Firstly I would like to thank Ott and Martin for their efforts this season. Looking back, the season started so well, fifth overall in Monte Carlo (and Ott's best finish there in the new Rally1 cars), followed by a victory in Sweden. We had a tough spell after this, and despite their incredible result in Chile, the year we all dreamt of just hasn’t come to fruition. It is obviously very disappointing for me personally to see Ott depart after only one season, but I wish him all the best.
"I would like to also thank every member of the team who has worked day in, day out giving their all to the program, their work ethic never fails to impress me through both the good times and the difficult times, they are all a true asset to M-Sport.”
Ott Tänak said:
"This year has gone by so fast together with M-Sport Ford WRT. 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."
Published 04 October 2023