In the first part of our look back at Neste Rally Finland, we explain why Esapekka Lappi is living up to the hype and why Sébastien Ogier will be eager to wipe this event from his memory.
Driver of rally: Esapekka Lappi
Unsurprisingly, a clear win here for the young Finn [above left, with co-driver Janne Ferm] who claimed an emotional maiden WRC victory on home gravel. The stats related to his performance in the car were good enough - like nine stage wins on only his fourth World Rally Car appearance - but outside the car we were just as impressed by Lappi the man. This is a guy that was dominating one of the most exciting rounds of the season and barely breaking a sweat. So he's definitely still cool and calm. But as well as that, we warmed to his personality, sense of humour and unflappable attitude. He really does seem to be the complete package.
Quote of the rally: Teemu Suninen
It's the rally's penultimate stage and Teemu Suninen reaches the finish control with his Ford Fiesta missing its front bumper. What happened? "I tried. I spun. That's all," he says before driving away. Only when amateur footage of the spin emerges on Twitter do we see the full jaw-dropping extent of the accident [watch it here]. In Finland, Suninen was king of the understatement.
Stage of the rally: Jukojärvi [SS4]
Friday's first pass through the 21km Jukojärvi torpedoed the victory hopes of three front-runners. The world champ was first to hit trouble, spinning into the trees soon after damaging his car landing a monster jump. Almost simultaneously, third placed Hayden Paddon drifted wide near the start and clattered his Hyundai into rocks, wrecking its rear suspension. Finally, rally leader Ott Tänak became former rally leader Ott Tänak when a smashed wheel and punctured tyre cost him more than 1m30s. Truly a giant killer, Jukojärvi.
One to forget: Sébastien Ogier
Finland was nothing short of a disaster for Seb. That Jukojärvi crash was his second in a week, after a heavy shunt the previous Thursday during testing, and he lost his championship lead thanks to an effective job by his title rival Thierry Neuville. "This inevitably has had a negative effect on the championship" was how Seb put it, presumably through gritted teeth.
Event Highlights Video (52min.) Neste Rally Finland 2017
52 min. Event Highlights Video Neste Rally Finland 2017
Evans’ podium dilemma
Welshman balanced attack with team priorities
Title duel: tension rises
Tension mounts as title rivals are tied