UNDER FIRE Ott Tanak: the firefighter
Ott Tanak called on experiences he learned from his firefighting father to save his Ford Fiesta RS WRC from the fifth-stage fire.
Tanak’s DMACK car would have gone the same way as Hayden Paddon’s Hyundai i20 WRC were it not for the Estonian’s determination to rescue the Fiesta.
“My father was a fireman and this helped a little bit,” Tanak told MN. “When I was a child, I went out on some occasions and I learned some things; I know there’s no point putting water on magnesium, it just gives more fire. But still, in the end, it’s instinct for every driver who has their own car in the fire: they want to save it.
“When we landed in the middle of the fire, straight away we got out of the car. But then I started to try to rescue the car. It was already red hot, I tried to open the door, but the door handle – all of the side of the car – had melted already, so I couldn’t get in to get the extinguisher out.”
Tanak then got a rope into the car to try and pull it free from the fire.
He explained: “Luckily there were some guys with a four-wheel drive, we got a rope around the rollcage and we were able to pull the car clear. After that we got some water and put that on our car.”
M-sport team principal Malcolm Wilson says Tanak saving the car was vital.
“Of course, we couldn’t ask him to do this,” said Wilson, “but I have to say, I am so grateful that he did. When it came on the radio that the car was on fire, I’ll admit, my head was in my hands. We have no more [current] cars. Everything we have at M-sport is going into building new cars for next season, we have shells for this year’s cars, but we simply don’t have another complete car.”