Sunday | 02 Aug 2015

Gilbert edges out Haapamäki in Junior WRC thriller

Half a second was all that split Quentin Gilbert and Henri Happamäki in the FIA Junior WRC category after a dramatic finale to a thrilling battle at Neste Oil Rally Finland on Sunday afternoon.

Gilbert led from early on Friday morning after Happamäki punctured and dropped 2min 30sec. However, the Finn won seven of Saturday’s eight stages to close to within 22.8sec of the Frenchman with just two stages remaining on Sunday.

Happamäki further reduced the gap to 12.4sec after Sunday’s opener. When Gilbert received a 10-sec penalty for checking into a control late, the Finn looked on course for a remarkable comeback victory.

However, Gilbert produced a blistering drive through the final stage to hold on for his third win in four rallies by 0.5sec. He can claim the title at the next round in Corsica in October.

“The last stage was very tense! It’s my best win and a superb result for the championship. Now we must prepare well for Corsica and do our best to win the title,” said Gilbert.

Happamäki said he tried to pressure Gilbert until the very end. “I drove well after having punctured at the start of the rally. With 16 fastest times it was difficult to do any better. At the finish I was disappointed with the result and perhaps I will only realise how good my performance was tomorrow,” he said.

Ole Christian Veiby was a distant third, more than three minutes behind the leading duo, with Terry Folb fourth. Jean-René Perry and Mohammed Al Mutawa completed the top six. All were driving identical DS 3 R3-MAX cars.

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