Rally debrief: part 2

We continue our look back at the Rally Sweden action, highlighting fantastic performances from two young Finns and one to forget for a local hero.

Surprise of the rally: Jari Huttunen
Look at the results of Friday’s final stage, the 8.93km Torsby test, and you’ll see why Huttunen won this category.

Not only did the young Finn top the timesheet, but he managed to beat everybody, including all the World Rally Car runners, at the wheel of an R5-spec Skoda Fabia.

Drivers ahead on the road would point out that the conditions cleaned with every car, but this was still a heroic effort from the man named ‘2015 rally star of the future’ by the organisers of Neste Rally Finland.

You'll never believe it: Dennis Rådström
Junior WRC veteran Rådström hails from Rally Sweden’s host town Torsby, so it was no surprise to see him flying on home snow. Last year’s championship runner-up, he dominated the action on Friday and Saturday, winning nine stages in a row to build a lead of more than 1min 45sec.

It looked like Rådström would easily repeat his 2018 Sweden victory. Instead, he was left to rue a missed opportunity when he went off  in SS13 and dropped seven minutes. He went on to salvage eighth place on Sunday. “I’m focusing on the positives,” he later reflected.

Driver of the rally: Esapekka Lappi
Pitched into a spectacular aerial spin after clouting a bank in SS5, Lappi’s Swedish charge almost ended on day one. But, the young Finn recovered his composure, increased his speed and fought off a strong final-day attack from Thierry Neuville to claim second place on only his second competitive outing for Citroën.

We’re not so sure about EP’s retro snow glasses, which were Group B-era Timo Salonen spec, but if they helped him deliver the goods in Sweden, perhaps we’ll see them again.

Stage of rally: SS8
We've already mentioned Huttunen's surprise stage win in SS8, but events in Friday's final test also contributed to a crucial shake up in the top three. Rally leader Teemu Suninen nearly lost his position when the lighting pod bolted to his car's bonnet came loose and flipped backwards, pointing the beams to the sky instead of the road.

Slowed by the distraction, his advantage over the chasing Ott Tänak reduced from 13sec to 2sec in just 8.9km. Meanwhile, the man who had been behind, Jari-Matti Latvala, plunged out of podium contention after getting his Toyota wedged in a snow bank for 20 minutes.

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