Palsankylä is used in the same format as last year. It offers a mix of roads with jumps, narrow sections and rocks buried in the ground. Most of the stage is on narrow roads deep in the forest, which are slippery. After 9.5km it emerges from the trees and near the finish is a huge jump and deceptive bend, which is often the scene of incidents.
How the action unfolded:
Mikko Hirvonen was lucky to escape a wild fifth gear moment which threatened to bring his Rally Finland to an early end.
The third-placed Finn was second quickest at the first split in his Citroen DS3, but hit a bank and was fortunate not to roll. He damaged two tyres and dropped more than 20 seconds to slip behind Thierry Neuville into fourth, 35.6sec behind leader Sebastien Ogier.
“When you see the onboard footage you will see how lucky I was,” he said. “I went wide at a fifth gear corner and hit a bank. The impact pulled the front of the car into the bank as well and it started to roll. Somehow it didn’t go over, but I did a 360 degree spin in the road. It was incredible that I got away with that.”
Ogier posted a third consecutive stage victory in his Volkswagen Polo R win to widen his lead to 9.9sec over the Ford Fiesta RS of Mads Ostberg.
“I was a bit safe, but not a bad stage,” was all the Frenchman had to say at the finish.
Ostberg was uncomfortable in the deep ruts which were a legacy of this morning’s first pass through the stage, and was fourth, 6.1sec behind Ogier. The Norwegian was planning to reassess his driving before the next Mokkipera test.
“I need to adapt my driving style in the ruts because it’s difficult to brake in the line and turn in exactly where I want to turn. I normally have a little flick of the rear at the entry but I can’t do that. I don’t know what to do. I need to talk with Jonas (co-driver Andersson) to see how we can manage it,” explained Ostberg.
Neuville was second in his Fiesta RS, 1.7sec behind Ogier, and is another who has taken a dislike to the ruts. “I couldn’t do better, I was flat out everywhere. Sometimes I hit the ruts so hard that I couldn’t hold the steering wheel,” he said.
Kris Meeke was fifth to remain fifth overall in his DS3, the Ulsterman growing more comfortable on the rougher roads.
“In the first stage of the loop I didn’t have confidence in the ruts. It’s my first time in this car in these conditions and I wasn’t committed enough going into them. If you hesitate in these conditions, you are thrown out the back door,” he said.