Latvala fastest at Finland shakedown
Jari-Matti Latvala sets the pace at Finland warm-up stage
A challenging test and perfect curtain-raiser as it offered a mix of everything competitors encounter over the four days. Wide and narrow roads, crests, jumps and dips were all there on roads close to the home of Finnish legend Juha Kankkunen.
Jari-Matti Latvala set the early pace at Neste Oil Rally Finland, the Finn blasting his Volkswagen Polo R through the test 2.6sec faster than Kris Meeke.
As thunder and lightning rolled around the countryside north-east of Jyväskylä, Latvala, who was fastest in shakedown this morning, said the heavy rain that fell before the start aided his cause.
“The first two corners were a bit slippery, but after that I had very good grip. In some places I probably could have pushed harder, but you never know how much to risk,” he said.
Meeke was relieved the weather eased before he started the stage. “The rain was unbelievable. We couldn’t even see the road on the way to the start but it cleared for the stage,” said the Citroen DS3 driver.
Road opener Sébastien Ogier was third in his Polo R, the Frenchman in cautious mood. “I didn’t take the full risk. There was a lot of standing water and I wasn’t flat out in the rain,” he said.
Conditions became more difficult as the rain became heavier in the final third of the test and the road surface deteriorated. “It was an absolute monsoon, and the ruts were filling with water,” explained Craig Breen, starting only his second event in a World Rally Car.