Friday 31 July 2015

Rally - Finland Day 1

There were 8 stages on the first day of Rally Finland with Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle setting the second-fastest time on the opening stage (SS2) to grab the overall lead. Throughout the leg, with a stage win on Päijälä (SS7), he matched the pace of Jari-Matti Latvala and Sébastien Ogier. Despite a minor moment on Ouninpohja (SS4) and a penalty for arriving late at a time control at the end of the afternoon, the Northern Irishman remained among the front-runners and made it back to Jyväskylä in third place overall tonight, around twenty seconds behind the leader. Mads Østberg completed the top four at the end of Day 1.

Kris Meeke: “I felt just as good in the car as I did last year on this very fast course. I had a strange feeling with the car after the first run on Ouninpohja. I heard a noise at the front; first of all, I thought it was a puncture and then that it was a transmission issue. We’re going to take a look in service. In the afternoon, I concentrated even harder to keep the car on the racing line and even managed to claim a stage win!”

Mads Østberg added: “The day went well. We lost a few seconds at the start of the morning. From stage three onwards, we were more or less on the pace. We are going to keep going and continue to push in order to put pressure on the leaders.”

Latvala and Ogier were opn their own at the head of the field. Team mate Andreas Mikkelsen is out: “Today was not our day and we crashed out. My pace notes were a little too optimistic on the fifth stage. I lifted in a long left-hander with a slight crest, which can be taken flat-out in perfect conditions. However, that did not prove to be enough. We ran out of road and rolled several times.”

It wasn't  good day for the M-Sport team either with Ott Tanak down in 10th place and Elfyn Evans in 20th. Ott Tänak explained: "A couple of kilometres before the end of the second stage [of the morning, SS3] I over-corrected one corner. It looked tighter than what we had it down as in the notes and we were fully sideways on the exit. There was a big stone and we clipped it which damaged the damper. Thankfully, we were able to get the car back to service, but we have lost a lot of time as a result.

Elfyn Evans lost even more time: "We ran wide at the start of Ouninpohja [SS4] and there was a huge stone on the exit of the corner which we hit and damaged the rear suspension arm. We managed to make a temporary repair that got us back to service, but we lost so much time and the whole afternoon was mainly about nursing the car back. It's been frustrating, but it's from my own doing so I have nothing to blame other than myself. It's been a long afternoon, on what would have been massively enjoyable stages, so we're obviously very disappointed."

"We were feeling really good in the car for the first two stages [SS2 and SS3]. It didn't feel particularly risky and we felt that we were reasonably clean so we just need to put today behind us and focus on developing that same pace tomorrow."

Leaderboard after 10 (of 20 stages):
1. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 1:16.19.2
2. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +2.6
3. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +24.0
4. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +34.1
5. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:49.6
6. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:52.3
7. Juho Hänninen / Tomi Tuominen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:22.5
8. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:46.6
9. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Skoda Fabia R5) +3:18.5
10. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:30.2…

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