Neste Rally Finland kick-started the second half of the FIA World Rally Championship season with one of the closest fights the WRC has witnessed in years. We look back at some of the rally’s talking points in the first of a two-part review.
Turning Point of the Rally
Saturday’s Kakaristo speed test is the modern version of the legendary Ouninpohja, regarded as the sport’s biggest test of bravery and commitment. Flat-out wide roads and monster jumps, something ALWAYS happened in Ouninppohja.
Kakaristo borrows many of its roads and the first pass effectively settled the rally.
Toyota Yaris trio Jari-Matti Latvala, Kris Meeke and Ott Tänak went into the 18.70km test with less than a second spanning them. Tänak came out almost 14sec to the good after Latvala and Meeke smacked the same rock, puncturing Latvala’s left rear tyre and wrecking Meeke’s suspension.
Quote of the Rally
Opening the roads in Finland is not the huge disadvantage it is in somewhere like Sardinia. But neither is it a great place to be.
Tänak carried that burden throughout Friday but still set amazing times. Esapekka Lappi, starting much lower in the order, had seen enough when he got to the end of Urria in the morning and discovered his time was identical to Ott.
“This Estonian guy is crazy!” he said.
One to Forget
Finland was a horror show for M-Sport Ford’s home hero Teemu Suninen. After a career-best second place at the previous round in Italy alongside new co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen, many predicted another podium for the youngster.
It never happened, nowhere near. Damaging his Ford Fiesta’s front splitter early on Friday left Suninen down the order after the first loop and he never recovered. With confidence low, he struggled to make the Fiesta work in the way it should and ended eighth
You’ll Never Believe It
The stunning pace achieved in Finland’s forests and around its lakes mean that every second counts in the WRC’s fastest fixture.
But this year took things to extremes. As competitors emerged from Friday’s second pass through Urria, after more than 106km of action, the leading quartet were blanketed by 0.6sec – with Tänak (below), Meeke and Lappi all tied in second behind Latvala!
Tomorrow: We name our driver of the weekend and look at the event’s biggest surprise.