Monday 31 July 2017

Rally - Finland mixed fortunes

There was an unusual look to the top ten after the latest round of the FIA World Rally Championship in Finland with Esapekka Lappi topping the leaderboard way ahead of the all the usual favourites. Of more importance to those of us outside Euroland (well, almost) was the performance of Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt.

Best of the rest were Caig Breen and Scott Martin, but at least Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle got themselves home in the top ten, just don't expect a British or Irish World Rally Champion this year. Sebastien Ogier has been caught by Thierry Neuville and they share the Driver's Championship after 9 (of 13) rounds.

It was Lappi's fourth WRC outing and first World Championship victory with the Toyota Gazoo World Rally Team, which claimed two podiums as Juho Haninen finished third. As for team leader, Jari-Matti Latvala, he was leading the rally when the electrics failed in SS19.

If there was jubilation in the Toyota Gazoo camp, there was less to celebrate amongst  the M-Sport squad with Elfyn and Daniel excelling themselves to score a magnificent 2nd place. They actually started the final day in fourth place behind Teemu Suninen and Juho Hänninen.

At the finish Elfyn said:“We’re really chuffed to come away from Rally Finland with second place – especially as that wasn’t looking likely on Friday evening. We kept at it, kept pushing and managed to claw our way back up the leader board. It’s a really positive way to finish the weekend. Friday was a very difficult day for us. We started without a test and were really struggling with the balance of the car throughout that opening day. We made some changes which helped quite a lot and the longer stages and drier conditions helped too."

"Going into this morning, it was a very difficult situation. There was an element of wanting to push for the best result, but at the same time it was really important to secure good points for the team. It wasn’t an all-out attack, but it all worked out in the end. It’s not the win, but it’s still a strong weekend and we can be pleased with the job we have done this weekend.”

Malcolm Wilson, commented: “Considering where we were on Friday afternoon, second position is a great result. Once Elfyn found the confidence that he had been lacking early on, he made quick work of climbing the order and his performance today was fantastic. He hasn’t made a single mistake all weekend and should be extremely proud of this result."

Holding second place Sébastien Ogier crashed out in the 4th test. He damaged the suspension of his Ford Fiesta WRC after a heavy landing and then ran wide near the end of the stage which pitched him into the into the trees just 700 mtrs from the Finish. Ott Tanak also lost out on the  4th stage when the Fiesta clipped a rock damaging the wheel and puncturing a tyre which cost them 90 seconds.

Craig Breen and Scott Martin redeemed some honour for Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT finishing a fighting fifth in their C3. Kris Meeke hit a rock in SS4 which damaging the steering but he straightened the steering tie-rod and kept going. Despite that he set the fourth fastest time on Ouninpohja 2!

There was more drama to come on the final stage of Day 2 as Kris explained: "On the final stage, we picked up a puncture after hitting a stone. I wanted to keep pushing but the tyre exploded, causing some fairly serious-looking damage. But it wasn't all that serious."

At close of play on Sunday, Kris added: "Obviously, it wasn't quite the day I was hoping for. I just couldn't find the feeling that I had here last year when I won the rally. Despite our efforts and the work done in service, I couldn't place the car like I wanted to and I was struggling to feel the grip. And clearly, it wasn't ideal to contest the last few stages with the damaged steering."

In the Manufacturer's Championship, M-Sport still leads, but Hyundai is closing the gap while newcomer Toyota is ahead of Citroen, what a turnaround for the French team.

Tom Cave finished an excellent 3rd WRC2 and 15th in the Hyundai R5 and after his disastrous Polish outing Osian Pryce had a brand new DMACK Ford Fiesta R5 for Finland and rewarded his supporters with 18th o/a, 4th place in WRC2 and top Fiesta runner. Fergus Greensmith finished 32nd o/a and 8th WRC2  in a Fiesta.

1. Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:30:02.9
2. Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +36.0
3. Hänninen / Lindstrom (Toyota Yaris WRC) +36.3
4. Suninen / Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:01.5
5. Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:22.6
6. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:33.1
7. Tänak / Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:53.6
8. Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) +3:12.6
9. Sordo / Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:11.5
10. Østberg / Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4:21.2

1. Sébastien Ogier - 160 points
2. Thierry Neuville - 160 points
3. Ott Tänak - 119 points
4. Jari-Matti Latvala - 114 points
5. Dani Sordo - 84 points
6. Elfyn Evans - 79 points
7. Craig Breen - 53 points
8. Hayden Paddon - 51 points
9. Juho Hänninen - 46 points
10. Esapekka Lappi - 45 points
11. Kris Meeke - 31 points

1. M-Sport WRT - 285 points
2. Hyundai Motorsport - 251 points
3. Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT - 196 points
4. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT - 139 points

No comments:

Post a Comment