WRC'15 Rally Finland - July30-Aug2 talk/results spoiler **
Rnd 8 - Neste Oil Rally Finland July30-Aug2
Dates back to 1951 when it was launched as a means of deciding the Finnish entries for Rallye Monte-Carlo.
It took on the name 1000 Lakes Rally and was included in the calendar for the WRC in its first year in 1973.
It has been dominated by Finnish drivers who have won 52 of the 64 editions. Top of the roll of honour are Hannu Mikkola and Marcus Gronholm with seven wins.
What’s new for 2015
Ouninpohja is back! The stage regarded as the sport’s biggest test of bravery and commitment returns with the full-length 34km version driven twice on Friday.
Jyvaskyla’s Harju street stage kicks off the rally on Thursday night.
Hyundai faces a tense race to repair Thierry Neuville's battered i20 WRC before tonight’s (Thursday) start of Neste Oil Rally Finland after the Belgian suffered a big accident in shakedown this morning.
Neuville crashed at a fast left bend near the end of his first pass through the 4.62km Ruuhimäki stage. The car felled a tree and returned to the Jyväskylä service park on a trailer where mechanics immediately started work.
The rear took the brunt of the impact and while the team was confident the i20’s roll cage was not damaged, FIA technical officials had yet to examine the car and give it the all-clear.
Neuville admitted he and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul were lucky to escape injury.
“It was quite a huge off. I arrived at the corner at about 160kph and went off at about 80kph. There was no escape because the trees were very close to the road,” he said.
“The grip was much less than I expected. I saw the braking lines from the other boys and tried to adapt. But I was too far off line and with the camber of the road I couldn’t take the apex and went straight off.
“I pulled the handbrake to try to go backwards into the trees. It’s a fifth gear left corner but I came in sixth. Straight away from starting to brake it was full lock with the steering but I couldn’t get round,” he said.
Neuville will hope the accident proves a good omen. Almost 12 months ago he rolled heavily in shakedown at ADAC Rallye Deutschland before going on to win.
Mads Ostberg was fastest in Citroen’s DS 3. The Norwegian went quickest by 0.4sec in the last of his four runs to edge out Andreas Mikkelsen’s Volkswagen Polo R. Robert Kubica was another tenth of a second in arrears in a Ford Fiesta RS.
Jari-Matti Latvala and championship leader Sébastien Ogier were fourth and fifth in Polo Rs, with Ott Tanak completing the top six in a Fiesta RS.
Sebastien Ogier won Thursday evening’s opening special stage at Neste Oil Rally Finland as less than a second covered the fastest three drivers.
The Frenchman topped the times in the 2.27km Harju by 0.6sec in his Volkswagen Polo R. Kris Meeke was second in Citroen’s DS 3 with Andreas Mikkelsen completing the top three, 0.8sec off the lead in another Polo R.
Ogier started last of the top runners and felt it gave him an advantage over the tricky mix of asphalt roads and gravel tracks near the centre of Jyvaskyla, which were soaked by torrential rain two hours before the start.
“It’s never easy in the street stages, so easy to make a small mistake,” he said. “It was better to start at the back because the roads were drying minute by minute for each car.
“Tomorrow will be a long day with two passes through the mythical Ouninpohja stage and no service, but the conditions are beautiful and the stages fantastic. I’m really looking forward to it,” added Ogier.
Robert Kubica was fourth in a Ford Fiesta RS, with the Polo R of Jari-Matti Latvala and Mads Ostberg’s DS 3 rounding off the top six. Both Latvala and Ott Tanak clipped chicanes, while Tanak and Martin Prokop reported handbrake problems.
Friday covers almost half the rally’s competitive distance, and all tackled with no opportunity for service from the moment drivers leave Jyvaskyla in the morning until they return in the evening.
Two identical loops of four gravel stages are followed by a repeat of Harju. It adds up to 158.43km of action – and that includes two passes through Ouninpohja, a remarkable stretch of rollercoaster road regarded as the sport’s biggest test of bravery and commitment.
Four-tenths of a second split Sebastien Ogier and Kris Meeke after Friday morning’s first two stages at Neste Oil Rally Finland, but championship leader Ogier held the upper hand in his Volkswagen Polo R.
Ogier ceded his overnight lead to Meeke in Pihlajakoski, but the Frenchman went fastest in Paijala to move back ahead.
“The roads aren’t easy to read and the grip was pretty low. The gravel is compacted and the tyres struggled to bite. You need to break the surface to find grip, some corners are slippery while others are better. When you’re first on the road it’s hard to judge the lines,” he said.
Meeke was delighted with his start from further back in the running order. “I made a couple of small errors in the first one and lost a little bit of momentum, and momentum is what it’s all about here. The second one was quite slippery, but what a beautiful place to go rallying,” said the DS 3 pilot.
Jari-Matti Latvala won Pihlajakoski at an average of 131.78kph, the fastest of the year, and fourth in Paijala left the Polo R man third, 4.4sec off the lead. The Finn admitted to close escapes in both tests.
Ott Tanak was third in both stages in his Ford Fiesta RS but was in a glum mood. The Estonian slid wide, hit a rock and damaged the front left damper in Paijala. With no service today, it’s a problem he must live with for the rest of the day.
Hayden Paddon’s Hyundai i20 and Elfyn Evans’ Fiesta RS were fifth in sixth in both tests to hold those positions on the leaderboard.
Dani Sordo overshot a junction and Martin Prokop slid into a ditch, but Robert Kubica had more serious problems. A faulty differential sensor meant he had front-wheel drive only for the first stage. He resolved the issue but it left him with no handbrake for the following test, in which he also punctured.
Thierry Neuville was a lowly 10th, the Belgian struggling for confidence after yesterday’s shakedown crash.
The iconic Ouninpohja stage lived up to its reputation as one of the sport’s classic challenges on Friday morning as three top six drivers had their hopes of a strong Neste Oil Rally Finland result knocked off course.
Second-placed Kris Meeke struggled through the final 8km with a transmission problem in Citro?n’s DS 3. The Ulsterman, who trailed leader Sebastien Ogier by just 0.4sec, dropped 5.3sec and 4.9sec in the following Himos test.
“It’s hard to tell with the transmission. I thought it was a driveshaft but it isn’t. It’s not as bad as I thought in Ouninpohja, but I can’t commit with the car and there’s not as much traction as earlier,” said Meeke who slipped to third, 10.6sec off the lead.
Ott Tanak continued to struggle in his Ford Fiesta RS with a broken damper after hitting a rock in SS3. He fell from fourth to 10th after losing nearly 90sec through both tests and said: “It’s not easy when you can’t jump on these roads.”
Team-mate Elfyn Evans conceded more than 90sec after damaging the rear suspension on his Fiesta RS 5km after the start. “I went wide and hit a rock in the ditch, we were lucky not to roll. It was OK for a while but the suspension broke soon after,” said the Welshman, who dropped a further 30sec in Himos to fall off the leaderboard from sixth.
Ogier was quickest in both tests to lead by 5.3sec from Volkswagen Polo R team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, who relegated Meeke to third. Third in Ouninpohja promoted Mads Ostberg to fourth in a DS 3, the Norwegian 6.0sec ahead of Hayden Paddon who was unhappy with the handling of his Hyundai i20.
Dani Sordo completed the top six in another i20, but the Spaniard was already 1min 07sec off the pace.
The first major retirement was sixth-placed Andreas Mikkelsen, who crashed his Polo R heavily early in Himos, while Robert Kubica’s morning of woe became worse with an alternator problem in his Fiesta RS.
Jari-Matti Latvala outpaced leader Sebastien Ogier on both Friday’s afternoon’s opening stages at Neste Oil Rally Finland to reduce the gap between the dueling team-mates to 3.3sec.
Latvala won the second pass through Pihlajakoski by 0.7sec from his Volkswagen Polo R rival at a remarkable average of 133.26kph, before claiming back another 1.3sec in Paijala as drizzle began to fall.
“I really had to focus and concentrate in P?ij?l? because I lost time there this morning, so I knew I had to perform well. There was a bit of dampness but it didn’t affect the grip, which was better this afternoon,” said Latvala.
Although he closed on Ogier, Latvala had only 3.9sec in hand over a rejuvenated Kris Meeke, who set a stunning fastest time in SS7. He was 3.0sec quicker than Latvala despite continuing to be affected by what he believes is a transmission issue in Citroen’s DS 3.
“Sometimes when you have a little issue, it focuses the mind. The car is wandering over the road, but I can talk to it in a straight line and in the corners it follows the ruts. It’s 99 per cent and I have to make the other one per cent,” said Meeke.
Hayden Paddon’s good run in fifth came to a violent end when the Kiwi crashed heavily 1km from the end of SS6. Both he and co-driver John Kennard, celebrating the 30th anniversary of his WRC debut, were unhurt.
After a trouble-filled morning, Robert Kubica retired his Ford Fiesta RS with an alternator problem at the mid-leg tyre zone. The Pole’s demise and Paddon’s crash promoted Dani Sordo to fifth, but he ended Paijala with what could be a broken exhaust.
Team-mate Thierry Neuville climbed to sixth, but the Belgian continued to struggle with pace notes that were to slow for the roads.
Jari-Matti Latvala tamed the mighty Ouninpohja stage to claim his 400th WRC stage win and move into the lead of Neste Oil Rally Finland on Friday afternoon.
The Finn literally flew through the daunting rollercoaster test, where cars leap into the air more than 70 times, to outpace Volkswagen Polo R team-mate Sebastien Ogier by 5.4sec and move into a 2.1sec lead in this eighth round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
“I have never driven this stage so fast – I have respect for Ouninpohja,” said Latvala. “I almost made myself scared in a couple of places because I had so much air over the jumps.”
Ogier had a clean run but, as first in the start order, the Frenchman thought he was suffering from the lines created by the national rally competitors who tackled the stage following the WRC’s initial pass this morning.
Thierry Neuville was beginning to get to grips with the rally after a difficult start. The Belgian was fifth fastest and climbed above Hyundai i20 team-mate Dani Sordo into fifth overall.
During the liaison section before the stage Sordo repaired the exhaust pipe problem that troubled him in the previous stage.
Jari-Matti Latvala delighted his home fans by leading Neste Oil Rally Finland on Friday night after an enthralling leg in which the lead changed hands three times.
He headed Volkswagen Polo R team-mate Sebastien Ogier by 2.6sec after almost 160km of flat-out action south-west of Jyvaskyla. Kris Meeke completed the top three, the Ulsterman 21.4sec further back in Citroen’s DS 3.
Almost half the rally’s competitive distance was crammed into nine gravel speed tests. With no opportunity for service, drivers had to avoid problems as well as adapt to the rollercoaster jumps which make this the fastest round in the FIA World Rally Championship.
Ogier lost his overnight lead to Meeke in the opening stage but regained the advantage in the next test to end the morning 5.3sec clear. Latvala was hot on his heels before moving ahead by literally flying through the rollercoaster Ouninpohja, where cars leap into the air more than 70 times, to claim his 400th WRC stage win.
“I have never driven that stage so fast. I almost made myself scared in a couple of places because I had so much air over the jumps. It was the best stage of an afternoon that went extremely well,” said Latvala.
Road opener Ogier initially struggled for grip in the forests following yesterday’s torrential rain. Then the unusual lines taken by local competitors, who followed the WRC through the morning stages, left plenty of loose gravel to disadvantage him when they were repeated.
The titanic duel for supremacy at Neste Oil Rally Finland between Volkswagen team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Sebastien Ogier continued unabated on Saturday morning with each claiming a stage win.
Overnight leader Latvala stretched his lead to 6.0sec by winning Mokkipera in his Polo R, only for Ogier to strike back and top the times in Jukojarvi. It left the gap between them at 2.1sec – exactly the margin when they turned off their engines last night.
Latvala launched an attack in the opener but credited Ogier for his response. “Seb did a brilliant drive. The road was getting slippery and I didn’t have the best feeling. I didn’t do the best performance,” said the Finn.
Dry roads in the opener hampered Ogier, second in the start order. “It was drier than yesterday and we cleaned the roads. The set-up was too soft and I could have done better. Conditions were damper in the next one. First on the road was the best place but second wasn’t bad,” said the Frenchman, who stiffened the spring settings before the start.
Kris Meeke was second and third to increase his advantage over Citroen team-mate Mads Ostberg to 15.5sec. The French squad replaced the transmission on Meeke’s DS 3 last night although the cause of the Ulsterman’s problem yesterday remains unknown.
Ostberg survived a close call on the first corner in Mokkipera, while fifth-placed Thierry Neuville ended Jukojarvi with his Hyundai i20’s windscreen wipers stuck across the front screen.
The Ford Fiesta RS cars of Ott T?nak and Elfyn Evans were restored to full health and both were focused on checking their pace notes having dropped so much time yesterday. However, Tanak was still third in Mokkipera.
It was a fraught start for Martin Prokop, who went off in the opener and then overshot a junction in the next test.
Four flat out stages covering 66km on Saturday morning and Jari-Matti Latvala extended his advantage over team-mate Sebastien Ogier by four-tenths of a second – such is the frenetic pace of the Volkswagen duo’s victory fight at Neste Oil Rally Finland.
As with the opening two tests, honours were shared in the last two stages of the morning. Ogier won Surkee to reduce Latvala’s lead to 2.0sec, before Latvala was quickest through Horkka to edge the margin up to 3.0sec.
Ogier, second in the start order, encountered plenty of loose gravel in Surkee and admitted to a close call in the following test. “A small moment when I got off line, but I’m happy with the loop. The first one was a bit slippery but the rest were OK,” he said.
Latvala counted himself fortunate to escape the clutches of a ditch when he slid his Polo R wide in Surkee. “I lost a little rhythm because of that. I tried to attack in the next stage but I let the car go too sideways, although it has been a very, very good morning,” he said.
Third and fifth in the two stages kept Kris Meeke in third in Citroen’s DS3, the Ulsterman’s advantage over team-mate Mads ?stberg at 13.5sec. The Norwegian chastised himself for having slowed down too much at ‘Novikov’s jump’!
Hyundai colleagues Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo held station in fifth and sixth. They are split by 5.9sec but neither could understand how to match the times of those ahead. “I tried to follow the lines in the road of the cars ahead but I can’t. I can’t understand how they have so much more grip here,” said Neuville.
Juho Hanninen was seventh, Ott Tanak overhauled Martin Prokop to take eighth and WRC 2 leader Esapekka Lappi completed the leaderboard.
Kris Meeke’s podium hopes at Neste Oil Rally Finland ended when he crashed early in Saturday afternoon’s Jukojarvi stage and smashed a wheel on Citroen’s DS 3.
The Briton held a comfortable third ahead of team-mate Mads Ostberg but, with heavy rain falling, he went off at a right hand corner 1.4km after the start. He continued for 200 metres before stopping with front left damage.
Meeke’s accident promoted ?stberg into third, the Norwegian easing his pace in the slippery conditions and dropping almost 30sec to Jari-Matti Latvala’s fastest time.
“I had a few very wide corners at the beginning. It was like driving on ice off the line and I decided immediately I had to play it safely, I didn’t want to waste a good rally,” he said.
Latvala was 3.3sec faster than team-mate Sebastien Ogier to increase his lead to 6.2sec. “They were very difficult conditions. There was massive summer rain and lots of grip changes but we managed it well. The time was good but until I finished I wasn’t sure how it would be,” he said.
Ogier, who won the previous M?kkiper? test by a tenth of a second from his Volkswagen Polo R rival, was happy simply to complete Jukojarvi - with a chunk missing from a wheel.
“It happened near the beginning,” he said. “I was on the edge of the road near a ditch and hit a rock. I thought I had a puncture so I backed off, but it was OK.”
Thierry Neuville climbed to fourth after Meeke’s demise, but his Hyundai i20 was intermittently running on three cylinders in both stages.
Team-mate Dani Sordo’s hold on sixth ended in Mokkipera when the Spaniard missed the line in a corner and his i20 crashed into a ditch. It took more than five minutes for fans to lift the car back on the road and he dropped to 12th.
Three consecutive stage wins on Saturday afternoon put Jari-Matti Latvala in control of Neste Oil Rally Finland after a titanic battle with Volkswagen team-mate Sebastien Ogier.
With only two tests and less than 30km remaining on Sunday, Latvala led by 13.2sec after a brave attack in treacherous conditions gave him the upper hand over Ogier and left the Finn on the verge of a third victory in his home rally.
The two have dueled for supremacy since Thursday night, and the margin never rose above a handful of seconds. Latvala began today’s eight tests covering 131.04km with a 2.6sec lead, and eked it out to 3.0sec after the duo claimed two stage wins each this morning.
Despite torrential rain, Latvala attacked in the 21.14km Jukojarvi and more than doubled his lead as Ogier clipped a rock with his Polo R. Fearing a puncture, the Frenchman eased his pace and it gave Latvala the break he needed.
He added two more victories in Surkee and Horkka to stretch the lead into double figures and leave Ogier virtually conceding victory.
“I knew it was time to attack this afternoon and it went well, despite the rain,” said Latvala. “That was the turning point of the rally. You have to take risks at the speeds we’re at here. Some sections were wet and some dry, and it wasn’t easy when you’re at the maximum.”
Ogier paid tribute to his team-mate. “Jari-Matti has done a fantastic job. I drove as hard as I could and have no regrets. Even if I finish second it’ll be a great result for the championship. I had a chance in the rain but missed it when I thought I had a puncture,” he said.
Mads Ostberg held a lonely third, 1min 14.8sec behind Ogier and almost two minutes clear of Thierry Neuville. The Norwegian inherited the place when Citroen team-mate Kris Meeke crashed at the same bend as Ogier’s escape and broke his DS 3’s front left suspension.
Neuville’s Hyundai i20 ran intermittently on three cylinders this afternoon, a problem traced to a faulty sensor. The Belgian was 52.6sec ahead of Ott Tanak, who climbed from 10th to fifth in a Ford Fiesta RS restored to health after yesterday’s damper problems.
Juho Hanninen completed the top six after losing position to Tänak in the final stage. Martin Prokop was seventh, despite twice going off the road and overshooting a junction this morning, with WRC 2 leader Esapekka Lappi, Pontus Tidemand and Lorenzo Bertelli completing the leaderboard.
Dani Sordo dropped from sixth to 11th after going off for five minutes, while Robert Kubica (below) rolled heavily 300 metres from the finish of the final stage.
Sunday’s final leg comprises two passes over the 14.13km Myhinpaa, the second of which forms the live TV Power Stage with bonus points to the fastest three drivers.
Neste Oil Rally Finland leader Jari-Matti Latvala was fastest through Sunday morning’s opening stage in Myhinpaa.
He went quickest in his Volkswagen Polo R by 0.9sec from team-mate Sebastien Ogier, and just a second run through the test stands between Latvala and his third Finland success.
“What a rollercoaster!” said Latvala. “That was impressive. There are places where I didn’t expect to jump and the car was in the air. Now we have to concentrate on clearing the final stage with no problems.”
His lead over Ogier is 14.1sec with just a second run through Myhinp?? remaining, and the Frenchman concentrated on fine-tuning his pace notes ahead of that final live TV stage, which offers bonus points to the fastest three drivers.
“It was a high-speed recce,” he said. “It’s an impressive stage, I had a lot of respect for that. There was nothing to gain by pushing for a win, that’s not possible, so I tried to focus on checking the notes for the second pass.”
Kris Meeke, who restarted under Rally 2 rules after retiring yesterday was third in Citroen’s DS 3 with team-mate Mads Ostberg fourth.
Thierry Neuville was ninth in his Hyundai i20, and reported that the engine sensor issues that affected him yesterday had been cured.
Jari-Matti Latvala won Neste Oil Rally Finland for the third time on Sunday afternoon after a thrilling duel with FIA World Rally Championship leader Sebastien Ogier.
The Finn repeated last year’s win in a Volkswagen Polo R, beating team-mate Ogier by 13.7sec after 320km of flat out driving over rollercoaster gravel roads in central Finland. The victory promoted him to second in the championship.
Citroen’s Mads Ostberg finished third in a DS 3 to secure his third podium of the season.
Ogier won the final live TV Power Stage to claim three bonus points. Latvala took two points in second and Kris Meeke secured one in a DS 3.
Jari-Matti Latvala won the fastest event in FIA World Rally Championship history when he claimed his third victory at Neste Oil Rally Finland on Sunday afternoon.
The Finn triumphed in an event affectionately known as the ‘Finnish Grand Prix’ at a remarkable average of 125.44kph, eclipsing the previous best of 122.89kph set at the same rally in 2012 by Sebastien Loeb.
Latvala headed Volkswagen Polo R team-mate Sebastien Ogier by 13.7sec after a thrilling duel over rollercoaster gravel roads near Jyväskylä. The win, his second of the season and 14th of his career, promoted Latvala to second in the championship behind Ogier.
Ogier and Kris Meeke both led before Latvala moved to the front midway through Friday. But Ogier refused to allow the Flying Finn to break clear by more than a handful of seconds, and only when he took a chunk out of a wheel against a rock on Saturday afternoon could Latvala breathe more easily.
“This was one of the greatest drives of my life,” said a delighted Latvala, who was greeted at the end of the final stage by father Jari. “I’m proud to be a Finn today. I’ve had a tough season but winning my home event is like winning half a world championship.
“I’ve focused fully on this rally for three weeks. After my disappointment at the last round in Poland, I decided my title hopes had gone and concentrated fully on preparing for Finland. It paid off today,” he added.
Ogier, who took the maximum three bonus points by winning the final live TV Power Stage, extended his championship lead to 89 points and could clinch a third title at ADAC Rallye Deutschland later this month.
Tom Cave blew the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy title race wide open with victory at Neste Oil Rally Finland on Sunday.
Cave, runner-up in last year’s series, topped the podium at the third round after a thrilling see-saw battle with Marius Aasen. The 23-year-old Briton won nine stages to win by 50.6sec and move into second in the standings, eight points behind Aasen.
Max Vatanen, who won the opening round in Portugal, was just 2.3sec further back in third and is just a point behind Cave.
“What a fantastic feeling it is to win in Finland, it’s only just starting to sink in that we’ve done it,” said Cave.
First held in 1982, the rally was part of the European Championship.
It relocated to Trier in 2000 and joined WRC in 2002.
Citroen won every Rallye Deutschland since it entered WRC until last year. Sebastien Loeb took nine victories, with one each for Sebastien Ogier and Dani Sordo until Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville topped the podium in 2014.
What’s new for 2015
Back-to-back runs over the Panzerplatte sprint test on Saturday morning.
The tricky Bosenberg roads in Saarland’s countryside are back for the first time since 2011.