Rally Finland: Day 1
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s hometown heroes underway in Jyväskylä
The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team has kick-started Rally Finland on the streets of its home city Jyväskylä, with its drivers completing the traditional opening Harju stage before they tackle the fastest roads of the season this weekend.
Following pre-event testing, Thursday morning’s shakedown gave the drivers one final chance to get up to speed before the competitive action began. Championship leader Kalle Rovanperä set the fastest time on his fourth and final run over shakedown, half a second ahead of fellow Finnish driver Esapekka Lappi, with Takamoto Katsuta and Elfyn Evans making it four GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRIDs in the top five.
The local fans were out in force to cheer on their favourite drivers during the evening’s opening stage, a revised version of the Harju stage that combines city streets with parkland tracks. In his own adopted hometown, Katsuta was the quickest of the GR YARIS drivers in his TGR WRT Next Generation entry, placing third overall and 0.1 seconds ahead of Jyväskylä native Rovanperä. Evans and Lappi were sixth and seventh respectively, both less than four seconds of the lead overnight.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“This is the start of a big weekend for us at our home rally. It is brilliant to have so many fans back in the service park in Jyväskylä for the first time in a few years. Rally Finland always has such a great atmosphere and especially for us, because we can feel a lot of support for our team and of course for our drivers as well. We could see and hear this support in Harju, which is always a tricky stage where it’s important to get through without losing too much time. Shakedown looked good for us but it was also very close, like the stage times usually are here in Finland. So it looks like it’s going to be an exciting and challenging weekend.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“Rally Finland is always a fantastic event with an incredible atmosphere. This opening stage in Jyväskylä is a big part of that atmosphere, although as a driver the greater focus is on the fast forest stages over the rest of the weekend. In shakedown I didn’t quite have the same feeling I had in our pre-event test, but we worked through some options and hopefully we manage to find some confidence early on. This is a rally where you need to be on it from the word go, so let’s see what happens tomorrow.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“Today the feeling was already really nice in shakedown. The forests were full of fans and a lot of people cheering, and then starting the rally with Harju is always an exciting moment. There’s lots of people and a really nice atmosphere. It’s a tricky stage for the drivers but we tried to enjoy it. In shakedown the car felt quite good on the first pass, and then we made some changes to improve it for the later runs. Of course, we want to win like at every rally but we also need to be clever and think about the championship.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 4)
“I think it’s going to be an amazing weekend. There were lots of crowds already in this first Harju stage. The important thing is always to get through this stage cleanly and then the real driving starts tomorrow. I’ve been really looking forward to this rally. After the test I had a really good feeling with the car and good confidence, and it was like this in shakedown too. On every run we were setting quick times and everything came really naturally, which was brilliant, so I’m excited for tomorrow morning.”
End of day one (Thursday):
1 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) 2m41.7s
2 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +1.2s
3 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +2.6s
4 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +2.7s
5 Jari Huttunen/Mikko Lukka (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +3.2s
6 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +3.2s
7 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +3.8s
8 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +3.8s
9 Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +3.8s
10 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +5.0s
(Results as of 21:00 on Thursday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
The first forest stages of the rally take place to the north-east of Jyväskylä with the well-known Laukaa and Lankamaa (which returns for the first time since 2017 and in reverse) to be run twice either side of a mid-morning service. A shorter version of the Harju stage precedes a mid-afternoon service, which is followed by two passes of Ässämäki and Sahloinen-Moksi to the west.
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