The crazy festival that is Rally Finland kicked off this afternoon with 3 stages.
After the opening ceremony in Jyvaskyla, which is the home to rally HQ and Service. Although the service park is looking more like a Fomular 1 paddock with Fords new Hospitallity along with Citroens RedBull hospitality opposite.
The first stage of the evening and the rally was the 23km Lankamaa stage. And there was a surprise in store as the fastest driver through the stage, beating Sebastien Ogier by 0.2 was Jari Ketomaa, the fin is experienced in S2000 Fiesta, but this time in a full spec WRC car, and showing what he can do in his home country.
It was 50/50 for the Fords flying fins. Last years winner Jari Matti Latvala was up to 3rd 3.5 behind Ogier, but his team mate Mikko Hirvonen had problems. On the first stage of the evening his engine cut out, causing him to crash into a tree, where he damaged his brakes. On the following stage, the brake disk slipped off, puncturing the wheel and as a result he was one an a half minutes off the lead. Road order was determined on SS2.
And as always it’s Sebastien Loeb who will be first on the road on Friday after going fastest on SS2, with team mate Ogier behind by 1.7 seconds. Mr Ogier showing that the team rivalry is still strong between the two by saying “only one man is important for me, an that is Seb loeb”. It was Dani Sordo in the Mini who set the 2nd fastest time in the forests of Finland, and Stobart’s Mathew Wilson that set 3rd fastest. But despite this, it’s Latvala who will be 3rd on the road behind the Citroens. Setting good steady pace, he is in prime position to fight tomorrow.
It’s stage 1 winner, Jari Ketomaa in 4th, an Mini John copper works driver Dani Sordo rounding off the top 5 in terms of road position for tomorrow.
After road order decided there was still one stage to go… Which of course Loeb won by 1.1 seconds and leads the rally overall.
In PWRC Patrick Flodin leads the class, jarkko Nikara 2nd with insiderally’s feature driver Hayden Paddon in 3rd.