SS2-3-4: Latvala sets pace

Big problems for frontrunners

By Franck Drui

28 July 2017 - 09:03
SS2-3-4: Latvala sets pace

Jari-Matti Latvala headed a Toyota Gazoo Racing 1-2 at Neste Rally Finland following Friday morning’s opening loop of speed tests.

While he and Esapekka Lappi enjoyed a clean run in their Yaris World Rally Cars, it was a dramatic morning elsewhere. Championship leader Sébastien Ogier and Hayden Paddon crashed out, while Ott Tänak dropped big time after a mistake.

Home drivers dominated the opening gravel tests following last night’s Jyväskylä street stage. Teemu Suninen, Latvala and Lappi shared the fastest times as Latvala opened a 5.3sec advantage over his colleague.

“Jukojärvi (SS4) was the most difficult stage of the morning,” said Latvala. “I was surprised how slippery the roads were in the first stage I expected better grip. In the next one some sections had better grip, but it was still very slippery in places.”

An over-cautious Lappi was 12th after Halinen, but second in Urria and fastest in Jukojärvi promoted the youngster up the order to leave Toyota sitting pretty.

Craig Breen was third in a Citroën C3, 8.1sec off the lead, but the Irishman had concerns. “I had a big moment over a jump and something’s not right at the front of the car. I don’t know what it is, but I hope it’s not the suspension,” he said at the finish of Jukojärvi.

Teemu Suninen was two-tenths back in fourth in a Ford Fiesta, the young Finn erring on the side of caution. “I was a bit careful because many drivers had problems and broke their cars here,” he explained at the Jukojärvi stop line.

Mads Østberg and Juho Hänninen completed the top six. Title challenger Thierry Neuville was almost 20sec off the lead in ninth, the Belgian admitting he was lacking pace and worried about strange noises in his Hyundai i20.

It was a disastrous morning for M-Sport World Rally Team. Ott Tänak retained his overnight lead until he slid wide and swiped some Jukojärvi rocks. The impact broke his Fiesta’s right rear wheel and he dropped 90sec.

Ogier was in more serious trouble. He landed heavily after a jump 1km from the end of the same stage and broke the Fiesta’s rear right suspension. His car ended in the trees, the Frenchman sidelined for the day (below).

Jukojärvi also ended Paddon’s hopes. He retired his i20 with rear right damage after an impact.



Motorsport news