Former World Rally Champion Ott Tänak will leave the Hyundai World Rally Championship team at the end of the season.
The Estonian, who has won 17 rallies in his career with Ford, Toyota and Hyundai, still has a year to go on his current contract, but has elected to bring that deal to an end.
He has not confirmed where his future lies, with options potentially available at Ford and with Toyota still to confirm its driver line-up, but did confess that he was considering a year away from the sport for personal reasons.
Tanak won his world championship with Toyota in 2019, having joined the team in 2018. But he left immediately after securing his championship and after just two seasons with the Japanese team, following a series of reliability issues.
This season Tänak has won three rallies and is currently third in the standings with only one round to go. But he has expressed anger and disappointment in his Hyundai team through the season following poor performances and retirements early in the year.
In a statement Tänak said: “This is a personal decision and one that I have taken with careful consideration and respect for the team. However, I feel that I am at a stage of my career where I need to embark on a new challenge.
“We have had a good partnership over the past three seasons, and I am proud of what we have achieved. We have worked hard together to overcome some difficult mountains, and as we’ve shown this year, we have moved in the right direction.
“The second part of this season has shown the performance level we can achieve when things click, but for me the time has come for something new. I thank the team for its understanding and wish them all well.”
Hyundai Deputy Team Director Julien Moncet added: “Ott’s departure comes as a disappointment, but it is a decision we must accept and respect. He is without doubt one of world rally’s finest drivers, as we have been fortunate to experience first-hand through the victories that we have achieved together over three seasons. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster. Our first year working together was affected by the pandemic; this year we have faced a new raft of hybrid regulations which have certainly been challenging.
“Ott has shown real leadership to push himself and the team to find improvements and to return to winning ways. Recently, we have built some positive momentum with our i20 N Rally1.”
“We will miss him but it’s also an opportunity for us to regroup and rebuild. We were already giving serious thought to our crew composition for 2023 so this decision, while not being one that we wanted, opens different possibilities for us as we prepare for next season. We wish Ott and Martin the very best for their future.”