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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Rnd8 WRC Finland July 28-31



Official Website: nesterallyfinland.fi/en/

Listen Live: wrc.com/live_popup_radio

WRC+ : Live Stages/Live Maps/Onboard Action/Full Highlights plus.wrc.com/


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Thurs-Shakedown


Jari-Matti Latvala headed a Volkswagen clean sweep of the top times at the Neste Rally Finland shakedown on Thursday morning.

Latvala, chasing a third consecutive victory at his home round of the FIA World Rally Championship, went fastest through the 4.81km Ruuhimaki special stage in his Polo R on his third and final pass.

The 31-year-old was 0.5sec ahead of Sebastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen, who tied for second.

"I'm very happy with the car, it felt good. I have a similar set-up to last year, the dampers are a little bit different but that's all. I don't use this set-up on any other gravel rally. The dampers are harder and I feel more comfortable landing after jumps. They stop the car from 'crashing through' and touching the road," Latvala said.

When Latvala starts the rally in Jyvaskyla this evening he will become the most experienced Finnish driver in WRC history and climb to fourth in the all-time list. His 164th start will move him ahead of ex-Ford team-mate Mikko Hirvonen.

Thierry Neuville was a tenth of a second back in fourth in his Hyundai i20. Mads Ostberg, hoping to banish memories of a disappointing event in Poland earlier this month, was fifth in a Ford Fiesta RS with Hayden Paddon completing the top six.

Craig Breen, who rolled testing on Monday, was eighth in his repaired DS 3, tied with Abu Dhabi Total team-mate Kris Meeke. Yazeed Al Rajhi rolled his Fiesta RS during his second attempt through the stage but the car was not badly damaged and he is expected to start.

click: wrc.com/finland-shakedown



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SS1 Harju 1 (2.31 km)


Ott Tanak and Andreas Mikkelsen were tied for the lead after Thursday night’s opening speed test of Neste Rally Finland in the centre of Jyvaskyla.

Estonian Tanak, who came so close to scoring his maiden WRC victory in Poland earlier this month, and Norway's Mikkelsen edged championship leader Sebastien Ogier by a tenth of a second through the 2.31km Harju special stage in the rally’s host town.

Tanak, who lost the win with a penultimate stage puncture after leading for much of the rally in his Ford Fiesta RS, joked: "We were not working hard enough in Poland so we have to work harder here! I’ll try to make the perfect weekend."

Mikkelsen could count himself slightly lucky to finish the test unscathed in his Volkswagen Polo R. He flirted with disaster exiting a fast left bend so wide that his car was totally off the road.

Thierry Neuville was 1.2sec off the lead in fourth in his Hyundai i20 with Kris Meeke next up in Citroen’s DS 3. Jari-Matti Latvala, aiming for his third consecutive Finland win, completed the top six in another Polo R but was far from happy at being 2.1sec behind the leading duo.

"It was a bad start. I wasn't happy with my driving, I struggled with the gears and was braking too early. I lost time," he said.

Tomorrow brings a long day behind the wheel. After leaving Jyvaskyla at 06.05 they face two loops of five tests mainly west of the town, before a repeat of tonight's Harju test. The 11 stages cover 146.85km before the action ends at 21.45.

click: wrc.com/finland-ss1




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Discussion Starter #2
Was away at RedBull GRC in DC ...apologies for the delay !

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Friday:

SS2 Mokkipera 1 (13.84 km)



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SS3 Halinen (7.07 km)


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SS4 Jukojarvi 1 (21.24 km)

Kris Meeke and Ott Tanak set a furious pace through Friday morning’s speed tests at Neste Rally Finland to distance themselves from their rivals at the head of the leaderboard.



Meeke was fastest in Mokkipera while Tanak topped the times in Jukojarvi to leave the Northern Irishman with a slender 0.7sec advantage in Citroen’s DS3.

“I still have a bit of a margin, OK maybe not a margin, but I feel comfortable. I braked a bit too early in places in the first stage and it was difficult to find a perfect rhythm in the next one but it’s all good,” said Meeke.

Tanak's hard compound tyres were not suited to Mokkipera and Halinen which were damp in places. But the drier Jukojarvi played into the hands of the Ford Fiesta RS driver.

“I pushed like hell. I can’t do any more at the moment. The grip was still a bit low but consistent all the way through. It was drier than the others so I knew I had to push as hard as I could. It was fun in every corner!” he said.

Andreas Mikkelsen was best of the rest, 14.2sec off the lead in his Volkswagen Polo R. The Norwegian admitted to a couple of mistakes in Halinen but said his preparations in watching his recce videos over and over again was paying off.

Road opener Sebastien Ogier struggled in the drier sections where loose gravel made conditions slippery and the Polo R driver was fourth.

Jari-Matti Latvala's hopes of taking a third straight win took a knock in Jukojarvi. Having been fastest in Halinen, he dropped almost 10sec after a mistake.

“We ran wide in a downhill right bend and hit a bank. I had a slow puncture and the tyre delaminated near the end. It’s not a complete disaster. We lost a bit of time but I did as much as I could,” said fifth-placed Latvala (below).



Craig Breen was sixth, despite overshooting a Jukojarvi junction.

Hyundai duo Thierry Neuville and Hayden Paddon had mixed mornings. Neuville was unhappy with the handling at the rear of his i20, while Paddon's plan to try a smoother driving style on the blisteringly fast roads did not work and he returned to his usual system.

Both Lorenzo Bertelli and Valeriy Gorban struggled with two-wheel drive only, Ukraine driver Gorban diagnosing a broken propshaft in his Mini John Cooper.

click: wrc.com/finland-ss4/



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SS5 Surkee 1 (14.95 km)


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SS6 Horkka 1 (15.01 km)

Kris Meeke held a comfortable lead in Neste Rally Finland after Friday morning's speed tests as broken suspension brought a premature end to Ott Tanak’s victory challenge.



Meeke headed Jari-Matti Latvala by 18.8sec in a DS 3 after five fast and furious gravel stages in the forests near Jyv?skyl?. His early morning win in Mokkipera was followed by a second fastest time in Surkee to build – by Finland standards – a strong advantage.

“It’s good to have a lead like this but a lot can happen, look what happened to Jari-Matti earlier. Jari-Matti is on home ground in Finland and there are still two-and-half days in which he can catch me. I’m feeling quite controlled so that’s nice,” said Meeke, who followed his Surkee win with second fastest in Horkka.

Latvala topped the times in Horkka, the Finn recovering from fifth after hitting a bank and puncturing earlier in his Volkswagen Polo R. His fightback was aided by Tanak’s problem in Surkee which was a mystery to the Estonian.

“It was strange. I started to brake and something broke. I lost the back of the car and had a big spin on a straight. Something was broken at the front and I couldn’t fix it for the next stage. All I could do was straighten the steering,” said Tanak, who dropped almost a minute to plunge to 10th.

Championship leader Sebastien Ogier overhauled team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen for third. The Frenchman was 4.5sec behind Latvala and 5.9sec clear of Mikkelsen, who found the conditions increasingly slippery as the roads dried.

Thierry Neuville was only two-tenths of a second further back in fifth, but the Belgian was frustrated by a lack of grip in his Hyundai i20 and looking for solutions as the crews returned to the Jyvaskyla service park.

Craig Breen ran as high as fourth before ending the morning sixth in his DS 3. Mads Ostberg climbed ahead of Hayden Paddon for seventh, the Kiwi echoing team-mate Neuville’s complaints about a lack of grip. Eric Camilli and Tanak completed the leaderboard.

click: wrc.com/finland-ss6



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Discussion Starter #3
SS7 Aanekoski-Valtra (7.39 km)



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SS8 Mokkipera 2 (13.84 km)


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SS9 Jukojarvi 2 (21.24 km)

Kris Meeke retained a comfortable advantage in Neste Rally Finland on Friday afternoon as he played an intriguing game of cat and mouse with closest challenger Jari-Matti Latvala.



Latvala was quicker in the opening Aaneskoski - Valtra speed test following the mid-leg service, only for Meeke to strike back with fastest time in the second pass through Mokkipera. Latvala was again the faster in Jukojarvi but the net result was a 1.4sec advantage to DS 3 driver Meeke to extend his lead to 20.2sec.

The roads cut up during the repeat pass and Meeke said after Mokkipera: “It was difficult to get out of the ruts and turn into the corners. There were a few big surprises in there.”

It was a similar story from Latvala. “There were some places with nasty stones and they gave me a bit of a fright. The braking areas were breaking up and bringing out stones,” explained the Volkswagen Polo R driver.

Sebastien Ogier admitted to a few visits into ditches as he battled to overcome the disadvantage of opening the roads. The championship leader completed the top three ahead of an enthralling battle between Thierry Neuville, Andreas Mikkelsen and Craig Breen.

The trio swapped places in every stage before ending in the same order as they left service. Mikkelsen’s Polo R headed Neuville, who was happier with the handling of his Hyundai i20, by 0.8sec with Breen a further 3.9sc behind.

Ott Tanak (pictured above) quickly put his morning suspension problems behind him. The Estonian was fastest in Aanekoski - Valtra and Jukojarvi in his Ford Fiesta RS to climb from 10th to seventh and move within touching distance of the three-car fight ahead.

Yazeed Al Rajhi retired after rolling at the final corner of Aanekoski - Valtra, his second roll in two days after crashing in shakedown yesterday morning. Marcos Ligato also rolled in the following test, bringing an early end to his day.

click: wrc.com/finland-ss9/



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SS10 Surkee 2 (14.95 km)


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SS11 Horkka 2 (15.01 km)


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SS12 Harju 2 (2.31 km)

Kris Meeke mastered Neste Rally Finland’s stomach-churning roads to hold a strong lead after Friday’s opening leg.



On a rally where Nordic drivers normally hold sway, the Northern Irishman won four speed tests to lead by 18.1sec in Citroen’s DS 3 from local hero Jari-Matti Latvala, who is chasing his third consecutive victory on home ground.

It was a disappointing day for FIA World Rally Championship leader Sebastien Ogier. The Frenchman was third until he slid his Volkswagen Polo R into a ditch three stages from the end and dropped 16 minutes.



Meeke, returning to action for the first time since winning in Portugal in May, took the lead in today’s opening test. He took advantage of drying conditions which hindered the early starters on the gravel-strewn roads this morning to build an 18.8sec lead at the midpoint. He added two more stage victories this afternoon to his earlier double.

“I tried to manage the car this afternoon but you need so much commitment on these roads to be fast. We were able to hold the gap but tomorrow could be a different story on the big stages, which we drive in the opposite direction to normal. I’ve not had this type of control in years gone by, but it’s coming now,” said Meeke.

click more: wrc.com/finland-friday-wrap




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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Saturday

SS13 Ouninpohja 1 (33.00 km)



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SS14 Paijala 1 (23.50 km)

Kris Meeke made a sensational start to Saturday’s action at Neste Rally Finland by crushing his rivals in the daunting Ouninpohja speed test.



The Northern Irishman was fastest through the rollercoaster stage, regarded as the sport’s biggest test of bravery and commitment, by a remarkable 13.4sec in Citroen’s DS 3 to take his lead over Jari-Matti Latvala to more than 30sec for the first time.

Meeke’s performance deflated local hero Latvala and he followed up with second fastest time in the following Paijala to head the Volkswagen Polo R driver by 34.7sec.

“I was wary of that stage and got up an hour earlier this morning to watch the video of it,” said Meeke. “I just concentrated on my rhythm but I don’t think I can improve on that next time through. After my good run in Ouninpohja I didn’t have to do anything crazy in the next one.”

There was plenty of loose gravel on the roads in the dry conditions and while that favoured Meeke’s lower start position, it proved a handicap to early starter Latvala.

“After Ouninpohja, there was no point in taking big risks in the next one,” said the Finn. “The cleaning effect is so much and I have no chance of matching Kris in the first pass. Maybe in the second pass, but by that time maybe the lead could be too big.”

Andreas Mikkelsen suffered most on the slippery gravel. Seventh in Ouninpohja and 10th in Päijälä sent the Norwegian tumbling from third overall to sixth in his Volkswagen Polo R. He opened the road in Päijäla after brake problems delayed Sebastien Ogier and went off the road briefly 800 metres after the start.

Both stages were interrupted by accidents. Ouninpohja was halted after Lorenzo Bertelli crashed while Paijala was paused after Eric Camilli went off the road. Both drivers and their co-drivers were taken to hospital for checks.

Craig Breen was delayed in Paijala following Camilli’s crash and the Irishman is expected to receive a notional time from the organisers which could propel him into third.

Thierry Neuville struggled with a lack of feeling in his Hyundai i20 while Ogier picked up a 2min10sec penalty after stopping on the liaison section after Ouninpohja to repair a brake problem before the next stage.

Ott Tanak topped the times in Paijala to move ahead of Mikkelsen, Neuville and Mads Ostberg in his Ford Fiesta RS.

click: wrc.com/finland-ss14



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SS15 Pihlajakoski 1 (14.51 km)


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SS16 Saalahti 1 (4.23 km)

Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg shared the fastest times through the final two speed tests of Saturday morning at Neste Rally Finland but it was Meeke who returned to mid-leg service in Jyvaskyla with the biggest smile on his face.

The rally was still buzzing about his incredible performance in Ouninipohja earlier this morning and Meeke’s thoughts turned to how he could control his 36.4sec lead over Jari-Matti Latvala through this afternoon’s four repeated stages and the final four tests tomorrow.

“Now we really have to do a job. We have to manage our position and that’s the difficult part of the job. We did it when we won in Portugal earlier this year and in Argentina last year and we’ll use that experience on this one,” said Meeke.

The DS 3 pilot won Pihlajakoski by 0.5sec from Sebastien Ogier before setting seventh fastest time in Saalahti, but only 1.0sec slower than stage winner Ostberg.

Saalahti offered a harder surface than the loose three tests that had gone before, but Latvala was trying to put the problem of road cleaning out of his mind.

“Third on the road and it’s still slippery in places,” he said after Pihlajakoski. “I’m trying to maintain the speed and not think about the cleaning effect too much. If you do, it can affect your driving.”

Craig Breen’s time through the earlier Paijala was readjusted after he stopped at Eric Camilli’s accident and the Irishman is up to third in his DS 3 ahead of a cluster of five drivers split by only 12.5sec.

Thierry Neuville heads the quintet despite the continued battle against his ill-handling Hyundai i20. Team-mate Hayden Paddon is 0.9sec behind in fifth, the Kiwi happier with the balance at the rear of his i20. Ostberg is sixth in a Ford Fiesta RS with Andreas Mikkelsen and Ott Tänak close behind.

Estonian Tanak is facing another recovery battle after dropping almost 20sec with a rear left puncture in his Fiesta RS in Pihlajakoski. Esapekka Lappi and Kevin Abbring complete the leaderboard.

click: wrc.com/finland-ss16



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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Saturday-Afternoon

SS17 Ouninpohja 2 (33.00 km)




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SS18 Paijala 2 (23.50 km)

Ott Tanak’s topsy-turvy Neste Rally Finland continued on Saturday afternoon when the Estonian rocketed back up the leaderboard into fourth.



After yesterday’s time-consuming problems, Tanak charged back up the order this morning only for a puncture to relegate him to eighth - at the back of a closely-grouped quintet of drivers.

He overhauled Andreas Mikkelsen in the repeat run through Ouninpohja before demoting Mads Ostberg, Hayden Paddon and Thierry Neuville in the following Paijala to move to the front of the fighting five.

Rain during the mid-leg service prompted T?nak to opt for soft compound rubber but drier than expected conditions left him with concerns. “We’re on the wrong tyres and struggling a little but we’ll keep pushing,” he said.

Rally leader Kris Meeke was fastest in both stages. He topped the timesheets in Ouninpohja for a second time by 5.8sec from Jari-Matti Latvala before outpacing the Finn by a tenth of second through P?ij?la to stretch his lead to 42.3sec.

“I’m in a good head space and driving to a good rhythm to keep my concentration. These stages are so enjoyable,” said Meeke.

Latvala was relieved to escape unscathed from Paijala. “I gave it a good push and went really well but there was one place where I had changed the pace notes and went a bit faster. I landed in the side of a ditch and could see all the fans starting to run away!” he said.

Craig Breen retained third, despite losing some seconds in Paijala. “I didn’t drive the stage at proper speed this morning because of Camilli’s accident. It’s a fast stage and you need real commitment but I was caught out. I tried to commit but what can you do?” said the Irishman.

Neuville, Paddon and Ostberg were split by 4.0sec and they opened a gap to road opener Andreas Mikkelsen, who endured the worst of the loose gravel on the road surface. Tenth-placed Kevin Abbring lost the use of the paddle shift gearchange in his Hyundai i20 and the engine misfired when he switched to the manual system.

click: wrc.com/finland-ss18



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SS19 Pihlajakoski 2 (14.51 km)



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SS20 Saalahti 2 (4.23 km)

Kris Meeke looks set to deny local hero Jari-Matti Latvala a third consecutive win at Neste Rally Finland after an outstanding performance in Saturday’s penultimate leg.



The Northern Irishman [above] more than doubled his lead over Finn Latvala to 41.0sec, winning four of the eight super-fast forest speed tests in Citroen’s DS 3 and putting himself in sight of becoming the first British driver to win a rally traditionally dominated by Nordic pilots.

Restarting with an 18.1sec advantage, Meeke stamped his authority on the event with a stunning early-morning drive through the awesome Ouninpohja stage. The 33km challenge features more than 70 flat out jumps and is regarded as the sport’s biggest test of courage.

Meeke defeated Latvala by more than 13sec, leaving the home driver deflated. Latvala admitted Meeke’s Ouninpohja drive focused his mind on preserving second place in his Volkswagen Polo R rather than risking all in trying to hunt down the leader.

To prove his performance was no fluke, Meeke won the repeat pass through the test this afternoon as he further increased his lead.

“Today has been exceptional. Yesterday was one of the best days I’ve had in a rally car and today has surpassed that. I don’t know where I go from here! We have a job to do tomorrow - play it safe and try to bring it home,” said Meeke.

Latvala had a troublefree day to head Craig Breen by 64.4sec, the Irishman climbing from fifth in a DS 3 and on the verge of a maiden WRC podium.

click more: wrc.com/finland-saturday-wrap



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Sunday

SS21 Lempaa 1 (6.83 km)




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SS22 Oittila 1 (10.15 km)

Craig Breen’s hopes of securing a maiden WRC podium at Neste Rally Finland received a major boost when closest rival Ott Tanak crashed out of contention on Sunday morning.

Tanak won the opening Lempaa speed test in his Ford Fiesta RS to close to within 4.8sec of the Irishman. But it all went wrong for the Estonian 3.35km into the following Oittila stage when he crashed into a ditch at a right corner after a crest.

His demise left Breen with a 6.6sec advantage over Thierry Neuville. “I had a clean run, I just need to keep calm and see what we can do. Seeing Ott threw me a little bit and I maybe backed off a little too much after that,” said the DS 3 pilot.

Leader Kris Meeke was a picture of serenity. “It’s very calm and relaxed in the car. I’m just taking an extra dab at the brakes. I’m enjoying the stages but still giving them maximum respect,” said the Briton.

The DS 3 driver was ninth in Lempaa and sixth in Oittila and his lead over Jari-Matti Latvala was 34.5sec with just a repeat of two stages remaining before this afternoon’s Jyvaskyla finish.

Latvala was third in both stages in his Volkswagen Polo R, the Finn cautious at the bend where Tänak crashed after seeing warnings in advance.

Neuville won Oittila in his Hyundai i20, the Belgian coping with his rallylong handling issues. “The rear wasn’t following the front end and I can’t do any more. My pace notes are sometimes too slow in the fast sections,” he said.

Neuville has a 2.4sec advantage over team-mate Hayden Paddon with Mads Ostberg a further 8.9sec behind in a Fiesta RS.

click: wrc.com/finland-ss22



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SS23 Lempaa 2 (6.83 km)



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SS24 Oittila 2 (Power Stage) (10.15 km)

BREAKING NEWS: Meeke wins in Finland




Northern Ireland’s Kris Meeke toppled the favoured Nordic drivers to win Neste Rally Finland on Sunday afternoon.

Meeke became the first British driver to win the Finnish classic and only the sixth non-Nordic victor in the rally’s 65-year history. He led for almost every kilometre of the four-day gravel encounter in a Citroen DS 3.

He shattered the hopes of Jari-Matti Latvala, bidding for his third consecutive victory in the FIA World Rally Championship’s fastest round, who finished 29.1sec behind in a Volkswagen Polo R. Ireland’s Craig Breen claimed a maiden podium, a further 1min 12.2sec back, in another DS 3.

Thierry Neuville won the final live TV Power Stage to claim three bonus points in a Hyundai i20. Team-mate Hayden Paddon took two points for second while Latvala secured the final point.



Congratulations from me to Kris Meeke and Craig Breen awesome !

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Next Rn9 Rally Germany Aug18-21



Official website: adac-rallye-deutschland.de

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