Toyota driver Ott Tänak, co-driven by Martin Järveoja, has won Rally Finland for the second consecutive year, extending his lead in the drivers’ championship to 22 points over Sébastien Ogier. In total, the Estonian won six of the 23 stages, including the Power Stage, to claim the victory with a 25.6 second margin over Citroën’s Esapekka Lappi.
Tänak hit the front on Saturday, with Lappi also moving into the runner-up spot. The Finn was challenged by his compatriot and former rally leader Jari-Matti Latvala, whose Toyota topped the time sheets on Friday night and briefly on Saturday morning, before suffering a left-rear puncture – his second in two days – on the Kakaristo stage.
Lappi was able to take a morale-boosting second place, his first podium after Sweden. Latvala finished 7.6 seconds behind after an up and down weekend, having won eight stages – more than anyone else on the rally – and claiming his first podium since Australia last year.
In fourth, Andreas Mikkelsen was the top finisher for Hyundai, which continues to lead the manufacturers’ championship ahead of Toyota. Although Mikkelsen was satisfied with the development on the i20 Coupé WRC, the team maintains its unwanted record of never finishing on the podium in Finland.
The Norwegian came out on top in after a close battle with six-time champion Ogier, who was unwell throughout Saturday. The Frenchman closed to within one second of the Norwegian on Sunday, but Mikkelsen responded with the fastest time on the penultimate stage (Laukaa 2) to head Ogier by 2.7s.
Championship contender Thierry Neuville inherited sixth place after team mate Craig Breen moved aside for him on Sunday morning. Neuville struggled with pace from the start, but managed to gradually improv his car’s set-up throughout the rally.
For Breen, it was a dream debut for his first WRC attendance of 2019. The Irishman set a couple of second-fastest stage times on the opening day and spent most of the rally locked in a tight battle with Mikkelsen, Ogier and Neuville, before he was asked to check in early in SS22 to Neuville’s benefit.
Behind him, M-Sport Ford driver Teemu Suninen finished with a disappointing eighth place on his home event.
The top FIA WRC 2 Pro finisher was Finland’s youngster Kalle Rovanperä in ninth overall with the Škoda Fabia R5 Evo – his fourth consecutive win in the category. Russia’s Nikolay Gryazin however took his very first FIA WRC 2 win, while Sweden’s Tom Kristensson claimed a dominant win in the FIA Junior WRC category, having led from the start.
2019 Rally Finland – Final Results:
|1. Ott Tänak (EST) / Martin Järveoja (EST)||Toyota Yaris WRC||2hr 30min 40.3sec|
|2. Esapekka Lappi (FIN) / Janne Ferm (FIN)||Citroën C3 WRC||2hr 31min 5.9sec|
|3. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) / Mikka Anttila||Toyota Yaris WRC||2hr 31min 13.5sec|
|4. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) / Anders Jaeger-Amland (NOR)||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||2hr 31min 33.7sec|
|5. Sébastien Ogier (FRA) / Julien Ingrassia (FRA)||Citroën C3 WRC||2hr 31min 36.4sec|
|6. Thierry Neuville (BEL) / Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL)||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||2hr 32min 12.17sec|
|7. Craig Breen (IRL) / Paul Nagle (IRL)||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||2hr 32min 18.5sec|
|8. Teemu Suninen (FIN) / Marko Salminen (FIN)||Ford Fiesta WRC||2hr 33min 14.1sec|
|9. Kalle Rovanperä (FIN) / Jonne Halttunen (FIN)||Škoda Fabia R5 Evo||2hr 38min 34.4sec|
|10. Nicolay Griazyn (RUS) / Yaroslav Fedorov (FIN)||Škoda Fabia R5||2hr 41min 09.0sec|