Radstrom tops Junior entry

Dennis Rådström raised his preparations a further notch to be fully match-fit to defend his FIA Junior WRC lead at this week’s penultimate round in Finland.

The Swede carries a 16-point advantage over fellow countryman Emil Bergkvist onto the rollercoaster gravel roads of Neste Rally Finland (26 - 29 July) and left nothing to chance in his build-up to the season’s fastest rally.

Rådström entered the AutoGlym Ralli, held on roads similar to those in this weekend’s encounter, and brought his Ford Fiesta R2 home fourth in class.

“Between each event preparation is really important. We’re always working on how we can improve and looking for areas where we can push harder. We scheduled some testing before Rally Finland to further improve and taking part in the AutoGlym Ralli was really useful,” he said.

Rådström (pictured) is twice a winner this season and the only other man to stand on the top step of the podium is Jean-Baptiste Franceschi, who won in Corsica. The Frenchman joined Rådström at the AutoGlym Ralli and finished second in class.

Estonia’s Ken Torn is expected to be among the frontrunners in Finland and he twice drove his Fiesta to class wins on home ground in the build-up, his second success at Rally Estonia two weeks ago.

Henri Hokkala joins the Junior WRC ranks

Enrico Oldrati’s preparations have not gone so well. The young Italian rolled his Fiesta heavily at the AutoGlym Ralli.

Joining the 15-strong entry for the first time is Henri Hokkala, recently named as this year’s AKK Future Rally Star of Finland. He is the latest winner of a prize drive on his home WRC round and follows in the footsteps of Teemu Suninen, Jari Huttunen and Juuso Nordgren.

“This will be my first FIA World Rally Championship event, and the longest rally I have ever done. To be titled the Future Rally Star is a massive accomplishment for me, with some big opportunities,” said Hokkala.

• Next year’s Junior WRC will again be managed by M-Sport Poland after the FIA agreed a one-year extension to the current contract. The series will again comprise five rounds, with drivers counting their best four scores and double points available on the final round. The calendar will be revealed later in the year. The champion will win a new Ford Fiesta R5 and registration into the 2020 WRC 2 championship.

Head to WRC+ to watch All Live from Neste Rally Finland, including every stage broadcast live, breaking service park news and expert studio analysis.

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