Red Bull Skoda driver Hanninen started day two 8.5s behind Ott Tanak, who had shone at the wheel of his Ford Fiesta by holding sixth in the overall standings for a time on Thursday evening. But a hat trick of stage wins by Hanninen on Friday morning elevated the Finn into the lead heading to the remote service halt in Lahti.
Although Tanak hit back with the fastest time on stage seven, a spin on the next run proved costly for the young Estonian when his car’s engine refused to restart after it stalled. Another spin on stage nine only served to compound Tanak’s agony to the extent he is now 3m42.9s adrift of the lead in fourth position.
“We had no problems today but it was shame for Ott because it was a good fight,” said Hanninen, who has been the leading S2000 finisher on Rally Finland for the past two seasons. “It’s quite difficult now because it’s important not to take any risks and to stay concentrated.”
Tanak said: “We had a spin and it took something like four hours to restart the engine. Then I had another spin on the next stage. It’s been frustrating today.”
Martin Prokop is second overnight despite an intercom problem on stage six and a scare on the final stage. “I couldn’t hear very well the pace notes,” said the Czech Fiesta driver. “These stages are new for me so it’s really hard to go over crests with no pace notes. Then there were some spectators crossing the road on the final stage and that really affected my concentration.”
Hanninen’s team-mate Hermann Gassner completes the top three despite reporting a lack of confidence as he adapts to Finland’s high-speed stages. “It’s been a long and difficult day but I’m been making improvements to my pace notes and have had no big moments so it’s been good.”
Frigyes Turan, from Hungary, was slowed on Friday morning when his Fiesta developed an engine misfire. He is fifth overnight, one place ahead of Portugal’s Bernardo Sousa, who has spent much of the day fighting back from the broken differential that slowed him on day one.
Karl Kruuda is seventh overall following a tough second day when his car dropped into rear-wheel drive mode five kilometres into stage four.
“We had no moments but it isn’t very nice to drive with only two-wheel drive for nearly all of the day,” said the Estonian teenager. “I’m really fed up with the technical failures because I’ve had them on every SWRC event this year. I just want to drive.”
Juho Salo is eight overnight in his R4-specification Mitsubishi Lancer. Eyvind Brynildsen crashed his Fabia on stage four.