Thursday | 04 Aug 2016

Finland driver report: part 2

In the second part of our summary, we look back at Neste Rally Finland and reflect on how the leading drivers dealt with the super-fast roads and big jumps.

Andreas Mikkelsen (Volkswagen Polo R) Result: 7th
After winning in Poland last month, Mikkelsen was certainly up to speed going to Finland. The Norwegian was in the thick of the multi-car battle for the final podium place on Saturday morning but an off in the first run through Päijälä dropped him to the back of the pack. There was no way back from there as he opened the roads following Sébastien Ogier’s problems and the chance to close the points gap on his team-mate was gone. Remains second though.

Hayden Paddon (Hyundai i20) Result: 5th
Grip – that was the word most frequently heard emanating from the Kiwi’s i20 as, like team-mate Thierry Neuville, he struggled to find any. The rear wouldn’t stop sliding and that was a big problem on Finland’s ultra-fast roads where keeping a straight line is key. Paddon modified his driving style in search of a solution but it didn’t work and he reverted to his favoured aggressive approach. In the circumstances fifth, less than seven seconds off the podium, was a fine effort.

Ott Tänak (Ford Fiesta RS) Result: Retired
Tänak spent the rally playing snakes and ladders. Stage-winning pace would move him up the order only for a problem to drop him to the back of the podium-chasing pack, leaving him to do it all over again. He was less than five seconds from overhauling Craig Breen for third on Sunday when a mistake ended with a sizeable impact with a rock – from which there was no coming back as retirement was instant. Six stage wins proved the pace the driver / tyres / car combination possessed.

Sébastien Ogier (Volkswagen Polo R) Result: 24th
It’s hard to recall too many mistakes from the Frenchman this season, so surely he can be forgiven this one? He was third until Friday afternoon’s second pass through Surkee when an over-ambitious approach to a hairpin right ended with his Polo R nosing into a ditch, from which it took 16 minutes to extricate. Brake problems on Saturday morning brought extra penalties but they were an irrelevant extra, as Ogier’s mojo had understandably gone by then.

Lorenzo Bertelli (Ford Fiesta RS) Result: Retired
Poor Simone Scattolin endured his second trip to hospital in three events after Bertelli exited Finland in spectacular style. A transmission problem left the Italian with only two-wheel drive on Friday morning and relegated him to 17th at the end of the day. A big roll in Ouninpohja on Saturday morning resulted in both driver and co-driver being airlifted to hospital. Both were soon released after checks but their weekend was over.

Kris Meeke (DS 3) Result: 1st
Stunning performance to join the small club of non-Nordic drivers to have won in Finland. He dominated from the start and his stage win in the legendary Ouninpohja on Saturday morning, when he distanced Jari-Matti Latvala by more than 13sec, will go down as one of the best stage performances in recent years. In seasons gone by, Meeke would have struggled to manage his lead, but showed for the second time this year he has learned that lesson.

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