Ott Tanak and Raigo Molder were lucky to walk away unhurt from a terrifying crash that saw the Ford M-Sport drivers plunge into a reservoir on the second day of Rally Mexico.
Coming through the first stage of the day, Tanak suffered suspension damage that prevented him from turning left, causing the car to career down a steep bank and into a reservoir.
The car soon began to fill with water, but both Tanak and Molder were able to escape in just ten seconds and swim to safety. Within 25, the car had sunk.
“If you are in a lake, close to the limit of your life and fighting for it, when you finally win that fight it’s an amazing feeling,” Tanak explained to wrc.com.
“I opened the seat belts and immediately after opening the door, the car filled with water. Then it went down in a short time.
“It was a bit scary when I got out the car. The intercom wire was still fixed and it was difficult to unplug, so it was dragging me under the water. That was a **** feeling but luckily I had enough force to unplug it. A few seconds later the car was gone.”
Remarkably though, the M-Sport team was able to recover the car – nicknamed the “Titanak” – from the lake and repair it, meaning that the drivers will be able to resume the rally on Saturday.
“This is something that we have never seen before,” Tanak said. “The car has been gone all day, submerged at the bottom of a lake, full of water, and the team had to do a full rebuild in just three hours!
“It was a crazy challenge, but I knew the M-Sport guys would be up for it. I have massive respect for my team. This was a huge task to do, but they have worked as hard as they always do and I am so grateful to each and every one of them.
“To get back out on the stages tomorrow is very important for me and Raigo. We need to rebuild our confidence and get back behind the wheel, and my team have made that happen this evening.”