Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja today won Rally Finland, the eighth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. In doing so, they become the first Estonians to win this spectacular high-speed event in 15 years, following Markko Märtin’s victory in 2003. It is Tänak’s fourth WRC career victory and their second win of the season, keeping the crew in the fight for the World Championship.
“It’s amazing for me obviously, to win the same rally Markko has won,” Tanak said. “This is the first time now that I can do something that he has done, and as he has been my mentor and my good friend, it’s definitely a very special feeling and obviously with all those crowds of Estonians as you said who were here yes, I had to push.
“I guess I had the same pressure as Jari [Jari-Matti Latvala] and [Esapekka] Lappi so I had no other choice than to go for victory so, basically, all or nothing and this time we come out with everything so… yes I had some pressure but also a lot of support so I think in the end it worked very well.”
Mads Ostberg and Torstein Eriksen fought to the end in a titanic battle with third-placed Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila. The rivals went into the closing Power Stage split by just 2.5 seconds, but Ostberg kept his cool and secured his best result in more than three years, also delivering a maiden WRC podium for his co-driver.
In the FIA World Rally Championships, Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul and the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team continue to top the standings. With both Neuville and Sebastien Ogier not scoring highly, the Belgian only lost six points to the Frenchman with the gap between the pair coming down to 21 points.
In the Manufacturers’ Championship, Hyundai lost just a couple of points, but Toyota was the points-bagger, the Japanese marque taking a 40 point haul from the team’s home event to close the gap to second-placed M-Sport Ford to just one point.
Tänak led Rally Finland for virtually the entire event and has been supreme over the rollercoaster gravel stages. He could afford to ease the pace over today’s closing four stages, but nevertheless claimed the Power Stage win to notch up maximum points and a momentous victory on an event every driver wants to win.
Ostberg went into the day second overall, just 5.4 seconds ahead of Latvala and determined to hold position. He won the day’s opening stage to marginally extend his lead but the Finn hit back in the next two, winning both to leave them split by 2.5 seconds going into the Power Stage. The Norwegian superbly defended his advantage with second fastest time and claimed the position by 2.8 seconds. It was a near-perfect result for Toyota with Latvala also on the podium, the event only marred by the retirement of Esapekka Lappi from fourth position this morning when he went off the road and rolled.
Hayden Paddon was the highest Hyundai finisher in fourth overall, the Kiwi driver happy with his weekend despite always wanting more. He finished nearly 40 seconds ahead of Ogier, who moved ahead of teammate Teemu Suninen when the Finn checked in late at the final regroup to aid the Frenchman’s points haul. The team’s third Fiesta WRC, in the hands of Elfyn Evans, finished seventh with Craig Breen eighth for Citroen.
Thierry Neuville’s road position was always going to make his assault difficult and this, coupled with an early mistake, saw him ultimately finish ninth ahead of teammate Andreas Mikkelsen who climbed back up the leaderboard to 10th following his Friday accident.
The FIA WRC 2 Championship was won by the all-Finnish crew of Eerik Pietarinen and Juhana Raitanen in a Škoda Fabia R5. Kalle Rovanperä had originally headed the category but when the youngster hit problems yesterday, Pietarinen was able to claim honours on home soil, despite Rovanperä winning each of today’s four stages. Ken Torn and Kuldar Sikk gave Estonia a double victory today with the win in the FIA Junior and WRC 3 Championships. After a close battle with Emil Bergkvist, they returned to Jyvaskyla with just 9.9 seconds in hand over the Swedes.