Tänak tops Finland warm-up
Championship leader fastest in shakedown
Ott Tänak lived up to his billing as favourite to win Neste Rally Finland when he was fastest in Thursday morning’s shakedown test.
The FIA World Rally Championship leader has the advantage of competing in his Toyota Gazoo Racing team’s back yard and laid down a marker for the four-day event by topping the times in the 4.26km Vesala special stage.
Tänak opened his account with fastest time in his Yaris on the first run and then shaved more than a second off that in the next pass over the smooth gravel roads. He posted the day’s benchmark time in his third and final run.
“Shakedown was good, no worries,” said the Estonian. “We had a good pre-event test and a rally in Estonia and we have been preparing as well as possible. At the moment it’s all looking good so I believe it should be fine for the weekend, but it will be a big fight.”
Thierry Neuville completed an additional run over the prescribed three and set second fastest time in that extra pass, 0.3sec behind Tänak and at the head of a strong Hyundai showing.
Craig Breen, making his WRC debut with the Korean manufacturer, was a further half second behind. Andreas Mikkelsen steered the third i20 into fourth place, a tenth behind the Irishman.
M-Sport Ford’s Teemu Suninen was fifth in a Fiesta with reigning champion Sébastien Ogier, in an upgraded Citroën C3, and Yaris team-mates Kris Meeke and Jari-Matti Latvala tied for sixth.
Leading times were:
1. Ott Tänak Toyota Yaris 1min 53.8sec
2. Thierry Neuville Hyundai i20 +0.3sec
3. Craig Breen Hyundai i20 +0.8sec
4. Andreas Mikkelsen Hyundai i20 +0.9sec
5. Teemu Suninen Ford Fiesta +1.0sec
6= Sébastien Ogier Citroën C3 +1.2sec
6= Kris Meeke Toyota Yaris +1.2sec
6= Jari-Matti Latvala Toyota Yaris +1.2sec
9. Esapekka Lappi Citroën C3 +1.5sec
10. Gus Greensmith Ford Fiesta +3.5sec
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