Stage data: SS11, Lankamaa 2 (23.06 kilometres)
By Ford World Rally Team co-driver Miikka Anttila: “The road section for this stage takes you along the Juha Kankkunen road so it’s known as the Juha Kankkunen stage. The stage has narrow bits and wide bits. There used to be a very a famous corner by a barn where Khalid Al-Qassimi and Petter Solberg have rolled in the past but now it has been changed. There is a section that goes over a hill, which is very narrow and tight and you have to be very neat, you cannot go wide. That’s quite challenging.”
How the action unfolded:
Petter Solberg overcame light rain and a gear lever issue to set the pace through Friday’s penultimate stage for the Ford World Rally Team.
Solberg, in a Fiesta RS WRC, was 0.1s quicker than leading Finn Mikko Hirvonen, who has closed the gap to leader and Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb.
“I am very happy, the car worked very well but I had a problem with the gear lever and I really struggled in the last five or six kilometres,” said Solberg. “I could have gone even faster without this. It’s a second stage win and I had to go so absolutely wild to do it but it worked.”
Hirvonen is now 3.0s behind Loeb who reported making a small mistake in his DS3 WRC. “I was really pushing hard and I missed a little bit a junction. Except for this mistake I couldn’t go any faster.”
Mads Ostberg completed the stage with a rear brake issue on his Adapta Fiesta although his fifth place was not threatened when rival Thierry Neuville rolled at low speed approximately 19 kilometres into the stage after failing to hear a pace note.
Eighth-placed Jari Ketomaa is now 18.3s clear of Matti Rantanen despite the misfire that has slowed him for much of the day returning. Martin Prokop also reported a slight misfire in his similar Fiesta
MINI privateer Riku Tahko spun in a junction nearing the stage finish and lost vital time as he tried to continue. He drops behind Sebastian Lindholm in the overall classification as a result. Lindholm, competing on a world championship rally for the first time since 2007 and opening the road for the drivers behind, picked up a misfire during the stage. “We had a misfire and it was cutting out many times,” said the Fiesta privateer. “Hopefully it’s nothing serious.”
The next competitive action takes place at the Killeri trotting track close to the permanent service park in Jyvaskyla. The stage goes live at 20:00hrs local time.