SWRC wrap: Home win for Hanninen
Red Bull Skoda ace claims dominant victory
Juho Hanninen has extended his lead at the top of the Super 2000 World Rally Championship standings with a dominant home win on Neste Oil Rally Finland.
Driving a Red Bull Skoda Fabia Hanninen and co-driver Mikko Markkula finished more than 2m37.7s in front of their closest rivals, the Ford Fiesta duo of Martin Prokop and Jan Tomanek. It was the Finns’ second win in the SWRC this season following their triumph on the Acropolis Rally last month.
Ott Tanak, who dropped out of contention for victory when his Fiesta refused to restart following a spin on Friday morning, finished third after he moved ahead of Hanninen’s team-mate Hermann Gassner Jr on the final morning.
“I kept a good speed all day without taking any stupid risks,” said Hanninen, whose victory was his fifth in a support category on Rally Finland in as many seasons. “I am very happy and the championship is now looking good with this very important victory. But there is still a long way to go.”
Prokop, who maintains second place in the points, said the final day was all about ensuring he reached the finish. “There was no pressure on me today so I just did my best not to make any big mistakes. I did not expect to finish so high.”
Tanak, who finished third alongside co-driver Kuldar Sikk, revealed at the completion of the Power Stage that his Fiesta had suffered a broken driveshaft. “We didn’t really need to fight for anything so we used today to check our pace notes and to set some good stage times.”
Behind Gassner, Hungarian Frigyes Turan overcame engine problems on Friday to finish fifth. Bernardo Sousa’s recovery from a broken differential on Thursday evening netted sixth position, despite the Portuguese being held back by a down-on-power engine for much of the rally. He came home one place ahead of Estonian Karl Kruuda who completed virtually all of day two’s stages in two-wheel drive mode only following a differential failure.
“Today was a little bit better than yesterday but we don’t have a great feeling on this rally,” said Kruuda. “I was lacking motivation because we fell so far behind yesterday when we lost the rear-wheel drive. I’m still gaining lots of experience though.”
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