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Ostberg wins
Helsinki Street Battle

Norway’s Mads Ostberg gave himself a pre-Rally Finland boost today, when he triumphed over some legendary opposition at the Neste Oil Rally Helsinki Battle.

The Helsinki Battle featured a stellar line-up of WRC drivers

The Citroen DS3 WRC driver was overall winner of the rally sprint event, which took place on the streets of downtown Helsinki and pitted six stars of the current WRC against four Finnish WRC ‘legends’.

Joining Ostberg in the modern day WRC corner were Jari-Matti Latvala, Mikko Hirvonen and Juho Hanninen, as well as Thierry Neuville and world champion Sebastien Ogier.

Up against them were world championship-winning Finnish legends Markku Alen, Marcus Gronholm, Juha Kankkunen and Tommi Makinen.

In perfect summer weather, more than 30,000 spectators flocked to the Finnish capital to watch the event, which kicked off with Kankkunen driving laps of the 1.65km track in his ex Hannu Mikkola 1985 Audi Quattro S1.

The first competition involved the ‘legends’, who each had a five-minute warm up to master the present day WRC cars they would race in two heats.

Ostberg beat double World Champion Marcus Gronholm in the final

The class was won by Gronholm who set an unbeatable time of 1m30.0s at the wheel of a Hyundai i20. The Finn was 0.8sec quicker than Makinen, in a Fiesta RS, who was left ruing a gear selection error on the final hairpin. Kankkunen, driving a Citroen DS3 was third in 1m33.6sm while Alen’s best in a Volkswagen Polo R was 1m36.4s

Ostberg shone in the battle of the modern era, setting a quickest time of 1m28.0s. Last year’s Rally Finland winner Ogier was second with a 1m28.3s, while Neuville and Hirvonen tied third on 1m28.5s. Latvala was fifth in 1m29.0s.

Gronholm and Ostberg faced each other in the grand final, which again went Ostberg’s way, his time of 1m27.4 better than Gronholm’s by 1.8sec.

“It’s always good to win,” said Ostberg, “and this victory is a perfect warm-up for next week’s Rally Finland. The winning feeling will be great to bring with us when we again start the DS3 WRC for the rally. Also, this is the first victory for me with my team Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team!”

Neste Oil Rally Finland, round eight of the World Rally Championship, starts on Thursday 31 July.

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