Ott Tanak brings Hyundai Motorsport back to victory and, after winning the Rally Italia Sardegna, he repeated himself at the Rally of Finland. The first place obtained by the Estonian, navigated by the usual Martin Jarveoja, is certainly important not for the purposes of the fight for the World Cup – already defined for some time – but because it is the first victory at Hyundai’s 1000 Laghi.
The second victory of the i20 N Rally1 also certifies the progress of a car that started too late in development and still in pursuit of direct rivals. At the moment he has only been able to win in particularly congenial conditions, namely the Rally Italia Sardegna – rally that Hyundai has often brought home and with different crews – and the Rally of Finland, where Tanak particularly likes the ground.
A good starting point for the Alzenau team, but the work to be done is still enormous. There will be some improvement – and not a little – on the preparation of the event: as we have seen this weekend, Thierry Neuville started the rally with a set-up very far from his preferences.
The positive aspect, however, is to have found a winning Ott Tanak. The Estonian, until June, had been abstaining from victories for over a year. Too much for a champion like him. Now he seems to have unlocked. The Rally won this weekend is the mirror of a driver who has found the right sensations to push in all the tests, without (almost) ever exceeding.
For Toyota Racing, on the other hand, a double podium has arrived which brings it even closer to the Constructors’ World Championship. Kalle Rovanpera was the author of a beautiful comeback: after being forced to open all the specials on Friday, between Saturday and Sunday he increased his pace as he was no longer forced to clean the trajectories for his opponents. At that point he managed to overtake his teammates, Elfyn Evans and Esapekka Lappi, thus finishing second.
Speaking of Lappi, the Finn was the author of an error in the penultimate stage that led him to overturn and considerably damage his GR Yaris. Aerodynamic damage, but also to the radiator. The latter was placed with modeling paste and filled with fluids using the water of one of the lakes that characterizes the area of Finland where the race took place.
Mission accomplished for Esapekka, who thus closed the podium (even without a windshield) in front of Elfyn Evans, the first non-Nordic rider in the standings. Thierry Neuville closed the Top 5, who found himself having to deal with several set-up problems and a distant pace from the leaders in a rally he never loved. His last podium in Finland dates back to 9 years ago, in 2013, when he was still racing for M-Sport.
Takamoto Katsuta took sixth place ahead of Gus Greensmith’s Ford Puma Rally1, the last driver behind the wheel of hybrid cars in the general classification before Jari Huttunen, tenth at his debut with the M-Sport Puma. Painful mockery for Pierre-Louis Loubet: the Frenchman had a good race, but just before the Power Stage he was forced to retire due to a mechanical problem that stopped him just before entering the last special of the 22 scheduled .
Rally Finland: Suninen triumphs in WRC2
Teemu Suninen, sailed by Mikko Markkula, made it. After occupying the first position for most of the race weekend, he took home an important victory for him, but also for Hyundai.
The Korean manufacturer can smile, taking note of the victory obtained by its driver, but above all by the i20 N Rally2, which confirms itself as a car capable of being able to win.
Beautiful race also for Emil Lindholm and Reeta Hamalainen. The Finnish crew, at the wheel of a Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo, took second place in their class, setting impressive times throughout the weekend.
Lindholm had to settle for second place, but the small gap that separated him from Suninen should be underlined: just 7 “7. Third final place for the Estonian Egon Kaur, who arrived however more than 2 minutes behind Suninen due to several problems that occurred yesterday.
Sami Pajari should be mentioned. The young and promising Finnish driver had to retire yesterday afternoon due to a breakdown on his Skoda Fabia while he was firmly in third place in the category and 11th overall. A real shame, but for him a competitive weekend that reveals very important things for the future.
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