Rally Finland got underway this evening with a short 2.31-kilometre special stage at Harju, following shakedown in the morning at Ruuhimäki: a classic Rally Finland stage with compacted gravel roads and big jumps. The special stage was less typical, with mixed surfaces and tight chicanes.
All three Toyota Yaris WRC drivers concentrated on getting a clean run to the finish in Harju. Jari-Matti Latvala is currently the highest placed of them in fifth overall, ahead of team mates Juho Hänninen in seventh and Esapekka Lappi in 13th, who hit a chicane that had been moved by a previous competitor. However, this caused no lasting damage and all three drivers feel confident ahead of tomorrow.
Tom Fowler (Chief Engineer)
“Shakedown went very well. The main target was just to make sure that the engines were calibrated correctly for this rally. We had one small setback when Juho hit one of the bales on a chicane, but we got the car back and were able to repair it, and we achieved everything we needed to. Tonight’s stage was tricky because it mixed gravel and asphalt and was very tight in places, so it was totally uncharacteristic of the rest of the rally. For the drivers, it was just a case of getting through safely and then the proper fight starts tomorrow. We are really confident about the ‘proper’ stages. We feel we’ve got a really good setup for fast rallies, and Finland is the fastest of them all.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“It’s a fantastic feeling to start the rally. Harju is always a difficult stage. I think I lost a bit of time on the first corner; I should have taken a little bit less speed and then I was struggling a couple of times with the gears. But generally, it was clear, no touches or anything, and now we can start the rally properly. It was great to see so many fans out on the stage as well. Tomorrow we should have good weather and then on Saturday it might rain, so it’s definitely going to be an interesting weekend.”
Juho Hänninen (Driver car 11)
“We had quite an OK run on the stage, nothing special: we just wanted to take it easy. So, we took it steadily and the car felt good. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow very much. The incident in the shakedown was just my mistake, I was a bit too late on the brakes for the chicane and hit the hay bale, but luckily there wasn’t any big damage. Finland is our home rally but I don’t think we have a big advantage. Tomorrow we’re going to have a good try out on the real stages.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 12)
“I hit the tyres on one of the chicanes in the stage: the gap was just too small as one of the previous cars had moved it, so the chicane was completely blocked. Not a great start as I think we knocked the suspension geometry, but our car feels really good and easy to drive so it shouldn’t be a problem.”
End of Day 1 (Thursday):
1 Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1m44.1s
2 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1.1s
3 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1.5s
4 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC): +1.6s
5 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2.2s
6 Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2.5s
7 Juho Hänninen/Kaj Lindström (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2.7s
8 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) +3.0s
9 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3.1s
10 Dani Sordo/Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +3.5s
13 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +5.7s
(Results as of 22:00 on Thursday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
By taking the start of Rally Finland, Miikka Anttila has broken the record for the most World Rally Championship appearances as a co-driver, with 189. He moves ahead of Frenchman Denis Giraudet, who presented Anttila with a special award in front of the media on Wednesday evening. Anttila made his WRC debut in 1999 (also in Finland) alongside Janne Tuohino before linking up with Jari-Matti Latvala for Rally Germany in 2003. That was Latvala’s third WRC start, and he has been guided by Anttila for all 175 participations since, with the pair claiming 17 wins together.
A mammoth 12 stages await the crews tomorrow, split into two loops of six stages with just one 30-minute service halt in between at the Paviljonki service park. Unlike many rallies though, the two loops aren’t identical, creating an additional challenge as there is no opportunity to correct the pace notes between stages. It’s an early start, with first service just after 06:00 tomorrow. The cars don’t return to service at the end of the day until 21:00.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing and its technology partner, Microsoft, will provide the “EchoCam” service tomorrow, at spectator area I on SS4 (Jukojärvi 1) and on SS7 (Jukojärvi 2). EchoCam is an entirely new service that connects fans' photos of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Yaris WRC (taken from a dedicated “EchoCam Photo Booth”) with a video shot from the car’s point of view, by using the Microsoft Azure cloud service. For further information, please visit the EchoCam website from your smartphone.
EchoCam website (English/Finnish) *Please access from your smartphone.
PICTURES WILL BE UPLOADED HERE DURING THE EVENT
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