Ott Tänak (born 15 October 1987) is an Estonian rally driver competing for M-Sport team in the World Rally Championship.
Tänak won the Estonian Rally Championship in 2008 and 2009, driving for the team run by former world rally winner Markko Märtin. Tänak made his World Rally Championship debut on the 2009 Rally de Portugal, finishing 20th overall. In September 2009 Tänak won the European Pirelli Star Driver shootout held in Austria. This gave him the opportunity to compete on six rounds of the 2010 World Rally Championship season. He won the PWRC category on the 2010 Rally Finland and 2010 Rally GB.
In 2011, Tänak drove 7 rallies with a Ford Fiesta S2000, prepared by MM-Motosport team under Markko Märtin’s instructions. He made a five-year contract with Ford.
Tänak scored his first WRC points in the 2011 Rally Mexico, and finished 3rd in SWRC. In Italy he collected his first class win with an outstanding performance. He continued to impress in Greece, as he was leading after the first day, but rolled his car on the first stage of the second day, and had to retire. In Finland he finished 3rd, and looked like he has only mathematical chances of winning the title. But with victories in Germany and France, he put himself back into title contention, arriving in Spain only 3 points behind leader Juho Hänninen. However, he hit a rock on the first stage, breaking his Fiesta S2000’s front crossmember, and had to restart under SupeRally rules, meaning that he basically lost all of his chances of becoming the champion. He finished the event sixth in SWRC, and runner-up to Hänninen in the championship standings.
He made his debut in a WRC-spec Ford Fiesta prepared by M-Sport Stobart at the 2011 Wales Rally GB, testing Chinese tyre supplier DMACK’s tyre compounds in preparation for their entry into the championship in 2012.
In 2012, Tänak was the number one driver for M-Sport Ford World Rally Team, and with a Ford Fiesta RS WRC he drove the full 2012 season. At the Rally Sweden Tänak took his first stage win on SS14. He later had a season with ups and downs. After retiring in Sweden with engine failure, he finished fifth in Mexico. But in Portugal, he slid off the road, forcing him to return under Rally2 (formerly SupeRally) rules. The next round, Rally Argentina started well for Tänak, but continued badly: he collected punctures, and slid back to 37th, but fought his way back to 10th. In Greece, he was doing well until he had to stop due to suspension damage and had to use Rally2 again. He crashed out in New Zealand, but on Rally Finland, the next round, he bounced back with a 6th-place finish. He followed this up by two crashes in Germany and Great Britain. After these poor performances, he went on to finish sixth in France. He scored his first podium in Italy, the penultimate round of the season, by finishing 3rd behind winner Mikko Hirvonen and Evgeny Novikov. The final round of the season, the Catalunya Rally, was bittersweet to him: on the first day, he was even leading the rally, and was lying fifth when he crashed out on the last stage. He finished 8th in the final standings, winning 8 stages during the season.
In the year 2013, Tänak was no longer a part of M-Sport World Rally Team and was forced to leave the WRC stage. He started competing in and leading a team at Estonian national rallies, OT Racing, and the first rally under his direction was Võru Talveralli 2013. Tänak’s first competitive rally in 2013 was Rally Tallinn, driving a Subaru Impreza WRX STi N12, in which he finished 2nd, just after Georg Gross, who was driving a 2008 Ford Focus WRC, and just 0.4 seconds ahead of Alexey Lukyanuk, who was driving in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 10. In season total, he finished 6 rally events, of which one he won and came 2nd in the rest, all behind Georg Gross. At the season finale, Saaremaa Ralli, Tänak led the event at the penultimate stage by just 4.4 seconds ahead of Georg Gross. Five stages before the penultimate stage, Tänak, with his WRC experience, knew that he would have to really push in the early morning when others are still waking up. He succeeded and built a lead of 15.9 seconds ahead of Egon Kaur and 20 seconds ahead of Georg Gross. But it wasn’t enough, he was driving on the limits of his Subaru Impreza and couldn’t go any faster. Georg Gross caught him on the final stage and won by 2.4 seconds. He finished the season by winning the N4 class with 3 points ahead of Timmu Kõrge.
Tänak has announced that he will be a part of Drive DMACK World Rally Team, which he will drive under in WRC2, and M-Sport, where he will drive Sweden, Portugal and Sardegna with a Ford Fiesta RS WRC. His co-driver will be Raigo Mõlder and his WRC-2 teammate will be Jari Ketomaa.
In 2015, Tänak returned to M-Sport Ford World Rally Team following the retirement of Mikko Hirvonen to compete in the Ford Fiesta RS WRC. His best result of the season was claiming third in the 72nd Rally Poland, matching his career-best result.