Finnish heroes set for home challenge
The entry list for the upcoming Neste Rally Finland (26-29 July) features a strong home-grown contingent, with a crop of emerging and established Finnish stars all set to do battle on the high-speed gravel event.
The eighth round of the championship boasts 71 entries across the WRC, WRC 2 and Junior WRC categories. Each of the WRC manufacturer teams will be represented by three cars, with Toyota Gazoo Racing and the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team both fielding home-grown drivers.
Toyota – based near host town Jyväskylä – has entered three Yaris WRCs as it aims to repeat its victory at last year’s rally when rising star Esapekka Lappi set the stages alight to claim his first WRC success. Joining the young Finn is experienced compatriot Jari-Matti Latvala who is a three-time winner (2010, 2014 and 2015).
Teemu Suninen, who finished fourth last year as he made his first appearance on home soil in a World Rally Car, will be keen to add to his podium finish at Vodafone Rally de Portugal in May with a good performance in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta.
In the WRC 2 support category, 2017 event winner Jari Huttunen will tackle the event in a Hyundai i20 R5. Seventeen-year-old Kalle Rovanperä will be making his first WRC appearance on home soil in a Skoda Motorsport Fabia R5.
Also competing in Skoda machinery will be the leader of the Finnish Rally Championship, Eerik Pietarinen, and rival Emil Lindholm. They will be joined by another domestic front runner in the form of Jouni Virtanen. He will drive an M-Sport-entered Fiesta R5.
The 2018 winner of Finland’s ‘Future Rally Star’ competition, Henri Hokkala, joins the Junior WRC field in a Ford Fiesta R2.
Stats watch: Ogier leads the way
M-Sport Ford driver led the most stages during first seven events
Wilson: ‘Ogier won’t give up fight'
M-Sport Ford boss targeting sixth WRC title for Frenchman
Rally Australia route revamped
16 new stages for 2018 season finale in New South Wales