Saturday | 02 Aug 2014

Rally Finland: Update #12

Leg 3: Saturday – SS17 Himos 1 (4.45km) and SS18 Leustu 1 (10.01km)

Himos was a mixed surface test on service roads around a ski resort. Leustu was a slightly longer version of the 2013 test and again tackled in the opposite direction to its usual format. The first 4km were narrow before it opened and became faster.

Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala shared the stage wins at the end of Saturday’s opening loop at Neste Oil Rally Finland, but the Finn remained firmly in control as drivers returned to service in Jyväskylä.

Latvala was fastest through Leustu to claim four wins from five morning stages and the lead over his Volkswagen team-mate is 29.9sec.

He finished with a brake cooling pipe trailing beneath his Polo R but was unflustered. “It’s been a good morning and I’ve really enjoyed the driving. I was a bit more cautious around the ski resort because I’ve driven it only once in the last years,” he said.

Kris Meeke - strong third for the Citroen driver

Ogier admitted to slight errors in both stages and seemed to accept second was the best he could achieve. “Thirty seconds to Jari-Matti in Finland is quite a lot. It would be stupid to push like hell to try to catch him,” said the Frenchman.

Kris Meeke slipped behind the world champion in SS15 and the gap quickly widened to 13.5sec. The Citroen DS3 pilot remained content, despite a scare in Himos. “It was a downhill left through a dip and the car kicked right and then left. Not nice,” he said.

Andreas Mikkelsen appeared to be winning his fight for fourth with Mads Østberg and Mikko Hirvonen. Mikkelsen was 8.4sec clear of Østberg, who slowed in Leustu when he thought he had a puncture after a ‘massive impact’. Hirvonen was 15.2sec further back, the Finn frustrated at being unable to match the duo ahead.

Hayden Paddon remained seventh while Juho Hänninen moved ahead of Elfyn Evans into eighth. Craig Breen completed the top 10.

In WRC 2 Karl Kruuda led in a Fiesta S2000 by 2min 34.3sec from Jari Ketomaa, who lost top spot after puncturing in SS16. Sébastien Chardonnet crashed his Citroen DS3 R5 out of third, to be replaced by the recovering Ott Tänak, although he lost a minute with power steering failure in Leustu.

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