Finland WRC: Tanak pulls clear as teammates stumble

WRC leader Ott Tanak built a comfortable 13.8-second lead on Rally Finland after Toyota teammates Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke hit trouble on Saturday’s morning loop. 

Tanak and Latvala each took turns at the top of the standings, with Tanak using his better road position to take 3.1s out of Latvala on Pihkajakoski (SS12), the opening stage of the day.

Latvala then responded with the fastest time on the following Paijala test (SS13) to edge back in front by just 0.2s. But misfortune struck both Latvala and teammate Meeke on Kakaristo (SS14), handing Tanak a healthy margin. 

Meeke clipped a rock on a fifth-gear right-hander, giving his Yaris WRC terminal left-rear suspension damage, while Latvala also hit a rock “the size of a head” early in the stage, suffering a left-rear puncture.

Unlike Meeke however, the Finn was able to haul his car to the finish, dropping 14.1s to Tanak but remaining ahead of the Citroen C3 of Esapekka Lappi by half a second. 

Eric CamilliHaving finished Friday just 2.6s off the lead, Lappi struggled to match the pace of the rapid Toyotas, but remains within touching distance of second-placed Latvala, with the pair separated by just 2.3s at the end of the loop. 

Behind the leading trio, Andreas Mikkelsen (Hyundai) heads a frantic battle for fourth over Citroen’s Sebastien Ogier and Craig Breen (Hyundai) by just 1.5s.

Breen held fourth at the start of the day but slipped behind both Mikkelsen and Ogier, who suffered a bout of vomiting overnight, on SS14. The Irishman lies 0.8s behind Ogier.

Thierry Neuville is a further 17s behind Breen in seventh as the Belgian continues to struggle with an early road position in his Hyundai. 

M-Sport pair Teemu Suninen and Gus Greensmith occupy eighth and ninth places respectively in their Ford Fiesta WRCs, both moving up a place at Meeke’s expense.

In WRC2 Pro, Kalle Rovanpera continues to dominate in his Skoda Fabia R5, well over three minutes clear of Eric Camilli’s Ford Fiesta R5, and is 10th overall.

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