Ott Tanak’s Hyundai profession could not have all the time yielded the outcomes he hoped for when he joined as reigning champion final yr, however the Arctic Rally Finland – which joined the championship at brief discover after Sweden was pulled on account of Covid restrictions – was as near excellent because it acquired.
“Finland is the house territory of Toyota, so to win right here, on a model new rally, feels very particular,” he mentioned, after claiming his second win within the i20 WRC. “We simply went as quick as was safely potential.”
The Estonian led from begin to end, claiming 5 of the ten phases to avenge his retirement on the season-opener in Monte-Carlo and get again into the championship struggle.
Sebastien Ogier, who led the standings after the Monte, had a rally to neglect in Finland, affected by being first on the highway on the opening day and appearing as a snowplough for his rivals. He headed into Saturday, constituting the majority of the motion, on the again foot. Simply as he was beginning to climb again up the leaderboard, Ogier made an uncharacteristic mistake and acquired caught in a snowbank on Saturday’s closing stage: gallingly just some hundred metres from the end.
“The rally was executed for us anyway, so I’m not too bothered,” he mentioned, ending up twentieth on the end, with only one Energy Stage level as comfort. “Whenever you’re first on the highway it’s all the time like this, so it’s solely what we had been anticipating.”
The pre-event favorite was Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera, and there was a little bit of stress, as a result of had he succeeded, the Finn might have turn out to be the youngest-ever winner of a World Championship rally.
Ultimately, Rovanpera missed out by simply 17.5 seconds, however he gained the Energy Stage (to attain 5 additional factors) and moved into the drivers’ championship lead, with Toyota nonetheless heading the producer standings.
Second total was additionally the 20-year-old’s best-ever outcome, forward of Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville, who had closed to inside two seconds of him on Saturday evening. Their battle was the spotlight of Sunday, with Neuville’s third place sealing second within the championship.
Rovanpera wasn’t the one younger sensation on the Arctic Rally, because it additionally marked the debut World Rally Automobile outing for 19-year-old Oliver Solberg. Throwing a spanner into the works was a constructive Covid check for his common co-driver Aaron Johnston, which meant a last-minute swap to the skilled Seb Marshall.
Nonetheless it was an excellent first time, with Solberg bringing his Hyundai residence in seventh, having misplaced a spot to Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta on the ultimate stage. Forward of the Japanese driver was his crew mate Elfyn Evans in fifth and Craig Breen in fourth: making his first look for Hyundai this yr and delivering all the pieces that was requested of him. One other returning driver was Esapekka Lappi, who gained WRC2 in a dominant efficiency with a Volkswagen Polo.
In contrast, spare a thought for his Finnish compatriot Janne Tuohino. On the fringes of the highest 10, the privateer Ford Fiesta WRC driver hoped to make Sunday rely. Solely to fall over within the sauna on Saturday evening and dislocate his shoulder…
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