Saturday | 01 Aug 2015

SS16: Meeke crashes out of third

Kris Meeke’s podium hopes at Neste Oil Rally Finland ended when he crashed early in Saturday afternoon’s Jukojärvi stage and smashed a wheel on Citroën’s DS 3.

Stage info: SS15 / 16

SS15: Mökkiperä 2, 13.84km
Mökkiperä is one of the rally’s most technical tests and a tough wake-up call. It has plenty of jumps but is slower than others. The opening section comprises flat roads, long straights and 90 degree corners. But after 6km it switches character, with one fast corner following another, most of them with tricky crests to increase the challenge.

SS16: Jukojärvi 2, 21.14km
A new opening 7.6km introduces the normal Jukojärvi, with a monster jump at 4.9km. Once it joins the usual route, the rhythm changes several times and there are many stones lurking by the roadside which demand precision. The final 13km are very fast, especially the section from 17.50km - 19.50km which Mikko Hirvonen says requires just one dab of the brakes!

The Briton held a comfortable third ahead of team-mate Mads Østberg but, with heavy rain falling, he went off at a right hand corner 1.4km after the start. He continued for 200 metres before stopping with front left damage.

Meeke’s accident promoted Østberg into third, the Norwegian easing his pace in the slippery conditions and dropping almost 30sec to Jari-Matti Latvala’s fastest time.

“I had a few very wide corners at the beginning. It was like driving on ice off the line and I decided immediately I had to play it safely, I didn’t want to waste a good rally,” he said.

Latvala was 3.3sec faster than team-mate Sébastien Ogier to increase his lead to 6.2sec. “They were very difficult conditions. There was massive summer rain and lots of grip changes but we managed it well. The time was good but until I finished I wasn’t sure how it would be,” he said.

Ogier, who won the previous Mökkiperä test by a tenth of a second from his Volkswagen Polo R rival, was happy simply to complete Jukojärvi - with a chunk missing from a wheel.

“It happened near the beginning,” he said. “I was on the edge of the road near a ditch and hit a rock. I thought I had a puncture so I backed off, but it was OK.”

Thierry Neuville climbed to fourth after Meeke’s demise, but his Hyundai i20 was intermittently running on three cylinders in both stages.

Team-mate Dani Sordo’s hold on sixth ended in Mökkiperä when the Spaniard missed the line in a corner and his i20 crashed into a ditch. It took more than five minutes for fans to lift the car back on the road and he dropped to 12th.

More News