Toyota's new WRC champion Tanak to switch teams next year
LONDON - New world rally champion Ott Tanak announced on Thursday, four days after winning the title, that he was leaving Toyota to join rivals Hyundai next season.
The 32-year-old became the first Estonian to win the championship, along with co-driver Martin Jarveoja, in Spain on Sunday with one race to spare.
"We’ve been fighting closely against each other for a number of seasons. They have always had a competitive team and car, so now it will be interesting to see things from the other side," Tanak said on Twitter.
He will link up at Hyundai with Belgian Thierry Neuville, nine-times world champion Sebastien Loeb and Spaniard Dani Sordo.
Hyundai are leading Toyota in the manufacturers' standings by 18 points.
"We are involved in a very close fight for the title this season, and bringing Ott and Martin into the team from 2020 will enable us to continue to be at the forefront for the coming years," said team boss Andrea Adamo.
Tanak took the 2019 title by coming second in Spain on Sunday, ending the sport's 15-year domination by French Sebastiens.
"It’s difficult to say the pressure I felt this weekend, it was next level. To manage all this and get through it has been the target of my life. When you are on the verge of this you cannot imagine it," Tanak told the wrc.com website.
"I never wanted to take risks but my mother said yesterday evening that if I want something I can make it happen. I just had to make it happen."
A generation has grown up knowing no other champion than Sebastien Loeb, who won nine titles in a row, or Sebastien Ogier who took another six successive crowns.
Tanak was Toyota's first drivers' champion since Frenchman Didier Auriol in 1994.Reuters