Rally Finland: Day 3
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing keeps pressure on in thrilling Finland fight
The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team was fastest in seven out of eight stages on the longest day of Rally Finland as it kept up the pressure in an incredibly close fight for victory.
ometown hero Kalle Rovanperä was the star of the day, making the most of an improved road position compared to Friday to climb up from fourth to second position overall. He once more excelled in tricky conditions to win two of the morning’s four stages in heavy rain and almost halve his 21-second deficit to the leader.
In the afternoon Rovanperä had the fastest time in all four stages and, while the time gaps were extremely small as usual on Finland’s high-speed stages, he managed to further reduce the gap to Ott Tänak to 8.4 seconds by the end of the day.
Rovanperä’s fellow Finn Esapekka Lappi remains in a podium position in third overall despite a challenging day. He was still less than 10s from the lead at mid-day service, but was hampered in the afternoon by a damaged windscreen caused by a rock, and finished it 35.2s away.
Elfyn Evans began the day strongly with a stage win in Päijälä and remained in touch with the leaders for much of the day, but lost time towards the end with damage to the left-rear suspension. A roadside repair allowed him to stay fourth overall, 45.8s ahead of fifth-placed Thierry Neuville.
Takamoto Katsuta remains in sixth position in his TGR WRT Next Generation entry, putting up a strong fight with Neuville for fifth until a spin in the day’s final stage cost close to half a minute.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“It’s been a fantastic fight again today. I think all our drivers were pushing really hard and trying their best, and when the competition is as tight as this, things can happen like we saw with Elfyn, running a bit wide and damaging the suspension. Esapekka meanwhile was incredibly unlucky to have a rock come up onto the windscreen. They both did a great job to get to the end of the day without losing positions. Kalle fought really well, pushing and trying to close the gap, but Ott has been really strong and taking risks and it’s been working out for him. Tomorrow I think the first stage will be the most important and I’m sure Kalle will have a bit of a push in the morning to try and keep the pressure on and see how the pace is.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“Today started pretty well with the stage win in a stage that I always enjoy – it’s a good way to wake up. Otherwise the morning was pretty solid. Then the afternoon wasn’t so good. I’ve not felt fully at one with everything and I guess that’s natural when these cars are still new and testing has been so limited. Unfortunately, one stage from the end we broke a damper in a cut over a stone which had developed quite badly for the second pass and probably caught the inside of the wheel. Then we just had to try and hold it together to get through the last stage. We’re not in a fight anymore so we’ll just aim to secure the position tomorrow and do what we can in the Power Stage.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“I have to be quite happy with today. There was not much more we could do in this situation. We have been somewhat sensible, trying to avoid any issues, and it has been quite rough with a lot of loose stones. In that sense, trying to push has not been easy. I had one moment this morning in the new stage with a pacenote that was too fast and we were lucky there was nothing to hit on the outside. But other than that it has been quite clean driving. I think the gap is just a bit too big to be honest for the stages that we have tomorrow, which everybody knows well. We still need to bring some points home and second place would already be a good result. Everybody wants us to fight for the win and I want to fight for it too, but I also need to be sensible sometimes.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 4)
“This morning the rain came and there were a lot of surprises with the grip levels. I think we all had some moments because we were really attacking a lot. In the first stage we gave some seconds away but the rest were pretty good and we were still in the fight. In the afternoon the conditions were better, the grip was higher and it was really enjoyable. Then I had this rock that flew up from the road under braking in the ruts: Apparently it bounced from the bumper to the tree and then to my windscreen and it caused a big crack just in front of my face. After that it was a bit tricky with the visibility, especially over all the crests. Still we are third overall, which would not be a bad result, so we need to stay positive and stay concentrated tomorrow.”
End of day three (Saturday):
1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) 2h02m44.0s
2 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +8.4s
3 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +35.2s
4 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +1m19.7s
5 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +2m05.5s
6 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +2m47.5s
7 Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +3m23.0s
8 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +3m27.2s
9 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Hyundai i20 N Rally2) +7m56.8s
10 Emil Lindholm/Reeta Hämäläinen (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +8m07.5s
(Results as of 19:30 on Friday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
The final day features two stages run twice without service inbetween. Oittila is the opener and is followed by Ruuhimäki, which once more hosts the rally-ending Power Stage over its famous sequence of jumps.
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