Ott Tanak wins Rally Finland’s Super Special stage

Ott Tanak wins Rally Finland's Super Special stage

Ott Tanak has taken the lead early in the Rally Finland after winning the first super special stage on Thursday night.

Three-time WRC race winner Ott Tanak kicked off the Rally Finland with a victory in the opening Thursday night Harju super special stage. Entering the first full day of stages on Friday, he leads Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville by 0.6 seconds.

In the 3.48km mixed-surface Harju test which was conducted on city streets and parkland roads in the host city of Jyvaskyla, the M-Sport-Ford driver demonstrated his commitment to the Rally Finland sweep.

Tanak beat Thierry Neuville from Hyundai by 0.6 seconds while Kalle Rovanpera, who is currently leading the championship was a tenth slower than Neuville to come in third.

Tanak’s fastest time on the 2.16-mile mixed-surface street stage put an end to world champion Rovanperä’s series of 13 straight stage victories after going undefeated through the Saturday and Sunday stages of Rally Estonia.

Thousands of spectators gathered to the super special stage mostly to see world champion and Jyvaskyla native Rovanpera return home.

The Finn was fortunate not to lose more than 0.7 seconds as a result of his Toyota GR Yaris clipping a curb after sliding wide while navigating an asphalt left hander.

Esapekka Lappi who was attempting to win again after his triumph in 2017, was fourth fastest in the runner-up Hyundai, 1.8s adrift. Elfyn Evans, the 2021 event winner and a teammate to Rovanperä at Toyota was only 0.1 seconds slower than Lappi.

Just 2.2 seconds slower than his teammate, Pierre-Louis Loubet of M-Sport set the sixth-fastest time. He commented, “It was an OK run,” but felt he might have performed better.

See also  Kalle Rovanpera dominates Rally Latvia, extends championship lead

On his second home rally, Takamoto Katsuta was seventh fastest which is a further 0.9 seconds behind sixth but 1.5 seconds ahead of Teemu Suninen as he made his second start in the Hyundai i20 N Rally1.

Jari-Matti Latvala took a cautious run through the stage in his first WRC start in more than three years after making a one-time comeback to the elite division of rallying in a fourth GR Yaris, finishing 8.1 seconds behind the fastest pace. The three-time event winner and regular Toyota team principal was obviously having fun.

Only one test day in the Rally1 car has seen the Toyota WRC team principal prepare for action before the start of the rally. Jari Huttunen finished in the top 10 in the WRC2 and was 0.2 seconds faster than Latvala on the stage and 8.1 seconds slower overall.

The teams have nine gravel stages totaling 104.76 kilometers to complete on Friday.

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