FIA

Rally Finland driver
report: part 2

We conclude our review of the major players from last weekend’s Neste Oil Rally Finland in part two of wrc.com’s analysis.

Sébastien Ogier (Volkswagen Polo R)

It’s not often we write that the Frenchman was second best – but in Finland that was the case. And, credit to him, he admitted as much. First on the road for the opening two days wasn’t as big a handicap as he feared thanks to the rain. The real problem was Latvala’s speed. He had already conceded defeat when his team-mate struck trouble, and although he seized his chance to capitalise on Latvala’s dramas, it wasn’t enough.

Mads Østberg (Citroen DS3) 
Initial frustrations with the handling of his DS3 gave way to an improved demeanour as he formed one third of the trio fighting for fourth during the second day with Andreas Mikkelsen and Mikko Hirvonen. While he had the measure of Mikko, he was losing time to Andreas – but that all became academic when a huge impact with a rock on Saturday kinked his car’s roll cage and he was sidelined. Exit Mads rapidly to his Jyväskyla hotel.

Elfyn Evans (Ford Fiesta RS)
More learning brought both frustration and pleasure for the Welshman. Having never driven a top level car in Finland, he soon discovered his pace notes were too slow for the ultra-fast roads. He resolved that issue but a Saturday afternoon puncture meant that with only spare in the car, he had to moderate his pace for the rest of the day. But Evans went away with points for eighth and, more importantly, plenty in the ‘experience bank’ for next year.

Juho Hänninen (Hyundai i20) 
Hänninen was going strongly in fourth until he inverted his i20 on Friday, for the second time in two events, and plunged down the order. Kept at bay by team-mate Hayden Paddon throughout Saturday and looked unlikely to catch him for sixth until the Kiwi had mechanical problems throughout the final day. Plenty of time to dwell on things as he probably won’t back in the WRC until Wales Rally GB in November.

Robert Kubica (Ford Fiesta RS)
Another rally, another off. Lost pretty much all of Friday when he ripped a wheel off just 1.6km into the opening stage. That meant he opened the road on Saturday and Sunday and he was incident free until a lurid two-wheel moment in front of the live TV cameras in the final motorway-like Ruuhimkai Power Stage. He played it down at the finish but the Pole was lucky….

Hayden Paddon (Hyundai i20)
Best World Rally Car outing yet for the New Zealand man as his confidence grew throughout the rally. Climbed the order steadily and held off team-mate Hänninen throughout Saturday – matching a Finn on home ground is no mean feat. Sixth was his until broken power steering tested his arm muscles throughout all three Sunday stages. Deserved a better ending after an excellent performance.

Martin Prokop (Ford Fiesta RS)
A tough event for the likeable Czech. After bemoaning the lack of grip on the first night, he had even less on the second day when an incorrect pace note meant he jumped clean off the road and was lucky to escape. The end came a few stages later when he crashed and Fiona the Fiesta was too badly damaged to continue. She was last seen being loaded up for a journey to M-Sport to restore her to pristine condition for the next round in Germany.

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