WRC Rally Finland Driver Report

The second half of the World Rally Championships kicked off on one of the biggest and fastest rounds of the season. For full report Click Here. Lets take a look back at the high flyers and the forest flingers from this years edition of Rally Finland.

Driver of the Rally: Mads Ostberg

 

 

 

 

This was a tough one to call. So many drivers put in some truly incredible performances. So much so, that we almost forgot about the title fighters at the bottom end of the results sheet.

But the Driver of Rally Finland has to go to Mads Ostberg. With very little seat time. He was thrown in at the deep end when Citroen took him on to replace Kris Meeke for the second half of the season. Having only expected to do a very small number of Rallies. Led the rally a number of times on Friday. The battle between himself and Ott Tanak was intense. Taking each others pace to an untouchable distance from the rest of the pack. This man is back and with a car that he now seems to be happy with. He will be one to watch out for in the rest of the season. Ostberg’s Second place was possibly one of the most important and much needed results for Citroen.

 

Survivor of the Rally: Kalle Rovanpera

Many events are often a battle for survival for most of the field. Being fast when everything works is one thing. But if you want to be a real driver, then it’s about how you hold your composure when things go wrong.

This award definitely goes to the fast rising star, Kalle Rovanpera. Held an untouchable lead until the penultimate stage on Saturday, when his car hit a ‘seemingly nothing’ rock. The front left top mount on his Skoda Fabia gave way and his spring had sprung. With time leaking away, Rovanpera dragged his Fabia to the end. He may have been quick to tweet that his rally was over. But along with his more experienced co-driver. They made a creative fix – Used a steering arm in replacement of the suspension. It was just enough to bring the car home. His 4th result was not deserving of his amazing pace, but showed his desire to never give up.

 

Forest Flinger: Esapekka Lappi

Finland is the sort of place that rewards commitment and speed. But make the smallest of mistakes and you learn a big, hard hitting lesson. There were several large smashes as always on Rally finland. But the most painful one was perhaps the one of last years winner & local star Esapekka Lappi. His rally was put on the back foot after his Yaris stalled on the first proper stage in the trees. From there on he was flat out. Putting in some amazing performances and working his way up the results table, he managed 4th. First stage of Sunday and he was fastest on the splits, maybe too fast. Not far from the finish the car slide wide, hit a tree stump at high speed. Which sent his Yaris spinning and bouncing like a pinball until it came to a stop at the side of the stage. Lappi, finished the stage – On foot and without his Yaris. Not the way last years winner was hoping to end the Rally.

 

Wooden Spoon: Andreas Mikkelsen

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We alway knew Hyundai would struggle a little on these higher speed events. They seem more suited for the twisty stuff. But Mikkelsen had his chance to shine. But he was never really on pace, struggled with set up of the car. Then threw it into a deep finnish ditch on Friday. Rolled the car but luckily there were plenty of fans to get him back onto his wheels, dropping around three minutes. This put him first on the road for the next two days. Ending the rally in last place of the top WRC drivers. His final win for VW in Australia seems like a life time ago. Probably because it was. He has the pace, just needs the results.

And the winner is….

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Ott Tanak, what an incredible drive he did for Toyota. Battled with Ostberg from 3rd on the road. Come Saturday, with a cleanly swept gravel track & he was untouchable. Don’t count him out of the title fight just yet!

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Full Rally Finland 2018 Sofa Report

The high flying fight in the Finnish woods technically started back in January. Now Bear with me here.

January the 11th to be exact. A plain clothed Norwegian seemed to be ‘just visiting’ the official launch of the WRC at the International Autosport show in Birmingham. Teams and their drivers took turns to come out on stage and announce their, mostly unchanged line up. But when it was the Citroen teams turn. The plain clothed Norwegian, Mads Ostberg had found himself a one off swedish drive and a pair of racing overalls – Rather awkwardly a spare set of Kris Meeke’s Race Overalls. Little did we know at the time, it would be more than just his race suit that Ostberg would be taking from Kris meeke 7 months down the line.

Having had very little seat time and being thrown in at the deep end to replace Meeke after his questionable sacking for the second half of the year. Mads Ostberg put in a truly remarkable drive against one of the fastest drivers of the 2018 season. Friday’s high flying fight between Ott ‘Tornado’ Tanak and ‘mad’ Mads Ostberg was edge of the seat stuff.

Unfortunately for me, I was still stuck in Birmingham. But thanks to the WRC promoters. I felt like I was there back in the woods of Finland with their incredible All Live WRC Plus subscription service. Worth every penny. Unfortunately my weekend was written off, as I was on the edge of my sofa for most of the 3 and a bit days of action glued to my laptop screen.

Ok, Ott Tanak didn’t have the best road position. Ostberg did. But let’s balance that out. Because as I said here at the beginning, Ostberg has had very little seat time in a car that still needs a lot of improvement And development. Thankfully the Citroen C3 was finally on pace this weekend. With both Ostberg and Craig Breen setting top 2 fastest times in pre-event Shakedown.

The Friday battle was hot. Mads & Ott swapping the lead, often with just tenths of seconds between them. But when Saturday came. Tanak was just untouchable and continued to creep open the gap until he crossed the flying finish. Literally. Mads settled for 2nd for what was a very important result both for Mads Ostberg and especially for Citroen, after their rather disastrous year so far.

Esapekka Lappi was another stand out driver. Last years winner put in an amazing performance but crashed out at the end of the first stage on Sunday morning, crossing the line on foot. Home hero Jari Matti Latvala gave it everything and managed to get on the last step of the podium. But Ostberg & Tanak were just too far out of reach. Hayden Paddon, who is on a part time drive with Sordo this year was the best placed Hyundai, with his best Rally Finland result of 4th.

Such was the speed and competition from the other drivers. The title battle between Neuville & Ogier took a back seat this time. Ogier was helped into 5th by his team mates Evans and Suninen, who also put in some great performances. Thierry Neuville spent most of his time sweeping what must have been one of the hottest and rough rally Finland’s for a long time. He only managed 9th. Meaning Ogier was able to close the championship points gap to Neuville. The Belgium leads the title fight by 21 points.

It’s important that we don’t forget about the support classes. As these drivers in WRC2 and the Junior WRC will be the stars of the future. One of the biggest stars of the future – Rallying’s equivalent to Max Verstappen. Is 17 year old Kalle Rovanpera. He took the internet world by storm when he was just 8 years old, throwing a rally around a snow covered lake on youtube. Showing unbelievable skills that someone 10 years older could only dream of mastering.

The young Finn dominated his home rally in his Skoda Fabia. Until the front left suspension mount couldn’t keep up with his flying pace. His spring had sprung, along with the damper and bounced off into the trees. But Rovanpera never gave up. He dragged the car to the end. Thought it was all over. Until they managed some road side repairs. Using a steering arm and straps to try and hold the car together for the final stage of Saturday. He made it back to service but the damage had been done. Lead gone, however he still impressed the world with his pace & survival skills to finish 4th. Just behind Brit driver Gus Greensmith. With Hyundai’s junior apprentice 2nd and privateer driver Eerik Pietarinen winning the WRC2 class.

This year’s FIA Junior World Rally Championship has been full of hot fought battles with these young stars of the future. The weekend got even better for Estonian fans, as Ken Torn secured his maiden victory after an intense fight with Sweden’s Emil Bergkvist.

Torn took the lead on Thursday night. But Bergkvist held the lead in the forests for most of Friday until a puncture dropped him 20 seconds behind his rival. Torn went into the final day with a 12.7 second lead. Bergkvist tried all he could to close the gap, but it just wasn’t enough, as Torn crossed the flying finish to thousands of cheering Estonian fans to take victory by 9.9 seconds. Jean-Baptiste Franceschi rounded off the top-three.

But Bergkvist wasn’t too disappointed, as his 2nd place finish, along with championship-leader Dennis Rådström failing to make it to the end after a heavy crash with roll cage damage preventing him from continuing. Bergkvist now leads the way ahead of Rådström and Franceschi with Torn not far behind.

The final round of the JWRC takes place at Rally Turkey next month and, with double points on offer, a thrilling finale awaits!

WRC Results

1. Tänak

2. Østberg +32.7sec

3. Latvala +35.5sec

4. Paddon +1m 35.6sec

5. Ogier +2m 15.0sec

WRC2 Results

1. Eerik Pietarinen

2. Jari Huttunen + 1m07.1

3. Gus Greensmith +2m35.2

4. Kalle Rovanpera +2m37.1

5. Pierre Louis Loubet + 4m05.3

JWRC

1. Ken Torn

2. Emil Bergkvist +9.9 Seconds

3. Jean-Baptiste Franceschi +1:46.2

4. Julius Tannert +4:08.1

5. Callum Devine +6:06.9

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Goodwood Festival of Speed 2018 – In Pictures

All the action and stars from the world’s biggest garden party, at Goodwood Festival of Speed in Pictures.

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What to expect at Goodwood FoS 2018

The world’s greatest garden party kicks off once again this weekend. As the Duke of Richmond, Lord March opens the gates to his beautiful grand country house built in 1600, for the 26th running of the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The biggest motorsport and automobile stars, celebrities and their cars will be entertaining the hundreds of thousands of fans who flock through the gates to watch as drivers put cars of all types & era’s through their paces up the famous Goodwood Hill Climb – As well as a forest Rally stage up at the top of the hill.

It’s a Motorsport and petrol head extravaganza. With F1 cars, sports & Rally cars from the past and present. Manufacturers unveiling the latest models and a look back at the historical classics from the history books.

If your heading down there this weekend you can expect much the same for the 2018 edition, as motorsport legends return to tackle the 1.16 miles of the Goodwood hill climb. With current F1 stars including Brendon Hartley, Valtteri Bottas, Robert Kubica and Stoffel Vandorne to F1 legends like Jenson Button, Emerson Fittipaldi and Mika Hakkinen amongst many others.

Then hitting the dirt and gravel of the rally stage. WRC fans will be thrilled by Elfyn Evans, joined in the Ford Fiesta WRC by his current team mate and five times WRC champion Sebastien Ogier, who makes his FOS debut. Plus Norwegian driver Mads Ostberg will also arrive with the Citroen C3 WRC car.

To prepare you for what is to come over this weekend. Take a look back at some of the best action over the year’s, snapped by InsideRally photographer Daniel Darrall.

 

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