Solans wary of Finland challenge
Junior WRC leader Nil Solans will prioritise points over chasing a fourth successive win at this week's Neste Rally Finland [27-30 July] - an event he counts as the most difficult of the season.
The Spaniard has been the sensation of this year's competition, and he holds a 39-point championship advantage after winning all three rounds so far.
But as the battle for the biggest prize in rallying reaches the halfway point - and the fastest stages of the year - in Finland, Solans has his eyes firmly on the 2017 title.
He said: “Finland is likely to be the most difficult event of the season and we need to consider our championship position, so the aim is to try and stay within the top three. The speeds are fast, everything is faster than you think so definitely the pace notes will play an important part.”
Solans came under attack from a number of drivers on the previous round in Poland and he was one of four drivers to hold the overall lead. Rookie Swede Dennis Rådström was one of Solans' closest rivals. He finished second in Poland, his best result so far, and is eager to get to the flat-out gravel stages around Jyväskylä that he knows well.
“Scoring our first Junior WRC podium was a big boost in the development," Radström said. "Our aim in Finland is to go fast but with respect to the roads and the speeds – having correct pacenotes is absolutely important here. We still want to keep our position as the top Rookies so it will be important to make no mistakes and also to have a lot of fun.”
They will be challenged by local driver Emil Lindholm, this year's recipient of the 'Future Rally Star of Finland' award. The young Finn, with experienced co-driver Tomi Tuominen, was an early leader in Poland and should have a home advantage after taking a class victory on a recent round of the Finnish championship.
“Poland was great practice for Finland and my aim is to finish the rally, be competitive and hopefully take some more stage wins," he said. "Either way it will be awesome to drive in front of my home crowd and we want to put on a good show. Pacenotes are so important here with many crests and jumps and we had a good practice by winning the class on the AutoGlym Rally last weekend.”
Also in contention is Nicolas Ciamin from France who has been on the podium at every round this season and will be aiming to maintain that record in Finland.
Terry Folb will be searching for better luck after final day problems dropped him down the order in Poland while Germany's Julius Tannert is also aiming for a podium after honing his gravel-driving technique on the previous round.
All the Junior drivers will have a chance to fine tune their identical Ford Fiesta R2T cars at a private test on Thursday morning.
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