Finland WRC: Tanak grabs early lead for M-Sport

M-Sport Ford Fiesta driver Ott Tanak began Rally Finland with victory on the opening stage on Thursday evening.

Finland WRC: Tanak grabs early lead for M-Sport
Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Kris Meeke, Paul Nagle, Citroën C3 WRC, Citroën World Rally Team
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
Craig Breen, Scott Martin, Citroën C3 WRC, Citroën World Rally Team
Jari-Matti Latvala, Miikka Anttila, Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Racing

The Estonian – who won June’s Rally Sardinia earlier in the year, his first WRC overall win – completed the 1.44 mile Harju test in 1m44.1s, 1.1s clear of his nearest challenger.

“I have big respect for these roads,” said Tanak. “When you have a good feeling, it’s really enjoyable.”

The winner of the previous rally in Poland, Thierry Neuville, drew first blood in his championship battle with Sebastien Ogier, taking second on the stage ahead of Ogier in third.

Hyundai driver Neuville won last time out on the rapid roads of Poland, and headed Tanak’s Fiesta team-mate Ogier by 0.4s. The latter leads the championship by just 11 points over Neuville’s i20 Coupe WRC. 

Craig Breen managed fourth, the highest of the Citroen C3 WRC drivers, at the home of his best WRC finish, a podium one year previously on the Jyvaskyla-based event. 

Finn Jari-Matti Latvala bested the Toyota drivers to take fifth, ahead of Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon and Latvala’s team-mate Juho Hanninen in seventh.

Meeke makes steady start on return

Kris Meeke, returning to the Citroen fold after being benched by the squad for Rally Poland, couldn’t back up his performance in shakedown where he was quickest, managing eighth on Harju, three seconds off the lead.

Elfyn Evans, who didn’t get a pre-event test thanks to Sebastien Ogier crashing the M-Sport test car, steered his DMACK Fiesta to ninth and Dani Sordo rounded out the top 10, the third Hyundai in the order. 

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