Ott Tänak leads Rally Finland after Friday, but has to fend off a persistent Esapekka Lappi – Early rollover by Oliver Solberg
Hyundai driver Ott Tänak leads Rally Finland, round eight of the 2022 World Rally Championship (WRC), after Friday, but is being dogged by Esapekka Lappi (Toyota). After taking the lead on the first special stage (SS) of the day, Tänak painstakingly built up a small lead over the Finn in the morning.
But the Finn fought back in the afternoon and closed the day with three best SS times in a row. After ten of 22 special stages, Lappi is only 3.8 seconds behind Tänak. Elfyn Evans (Toyota) is already 19.3 seconds behind Tänak in third place. Fourth is another Toyota driver, WRC leader Kalle Rovanperä (+21,0 seconds).
Craig Breen (Ford) as fastest M-Sport driver in fifth place, Takamoto Katsuta (Toyota), Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), Pierre-Louis Loubet, Gus Greensmith (both Ford) as well as Teemu Suninen (Hyundai) as leader of the WRC2 classification completed the Top 10.
Tänak and Lappi fight a duel on equal terms
Tänak and Lappi fought a duel on equal terms, which the Finn even won 4:3 in the best stage times. And in the end Tänak seemed happy to have saved the lead for the day’s finish: “It was an exhausting day and my battery is pretty empty. The bed is waiting!”
Lappi, on the other hand, who put in his best performance so far since returning to Toyota at the scene of his only WRC win to date, seemed unable to get enough. “It was really a very good day. The car was great and my driving was really good as well. We improved our speed a bit in the afternoon and it’s a nice fight for tomorrow.”
“I can’t say I’m really happy,” said third-placed Evans, on the other hand. “I wasn’t quite on my game from the start and we just didn’t hit the mark. It got better this afternoon and hopefully we can carry that momentum into tomorrow. “
Rovenperä makes the most of starting position one
The situation was different for his teammate Rovanperä, who was the first starter today and found the worst track conditions, but made the best of it. “I am quite happy with our day. We pushed hard, that’s all we could do,” said Rovanperä. Given his lead of 83 points in the WRC standings and the fact that he is currently placed ahead of his first pursuer Neuville, the Finn also had every reason to be satisfied.
The aforementioned Neuville, who had won the first special stage on Thursday evening, was unable to keep up with the pace of the fastest riders on Friday and fell back bit by bit. The Belgian cannot be satisfied with his gap of 50.2 seconds to the top and almost 30 seconds to Rovanperä.
The Rally Finland ended very early for Oliver Solberg (Hyundai). Shortly after the start of the first special stage of the day, Solberg slid off the road in a right-hand bend and overturned his car. The driver, who has a Swedish licence, and his co-driver Elliott Edmondson were able to get out of the wreckage under their own power without being injured.
Out for Solberg after early rollover
“It was a normal corner just after the start, and in the middle of it the rear suddenly broke away. From then on I knew I had no grip left to save it”, As the roll cage of the car was damaged in the rollover, Solberg will not be able to compete again in Finland. “
One problem at times on Friday were the enthusiastic fans, some of whom did not stick to the official spectator zones, which is why the fifth special stage had to be cancelled for safety reasons.
On Saturday, eight special stages over a total distance of 150.3 kilometres are on the programme at the Rally Finland 2022.