M-Sport’s Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta was challenging for the lead once again at Day 1 of Rally Finland 2016.
In the hands of DMACK’s Ott Tänak and Raigo Mõlder, the Estonians pulled away from the pack, only just seven-tenths of a second off the lead only to suffer even more bad luck.
Tänak suffered a broken suspension on SS4 in Surkee, dropping more than 50 seconds behind the rally leader Kris Meeke, relegating him to tenth place.
His bad luck continued when he picked up a right-front tyre puncture on SS11 on Surkee 2, costing him 25 seconds. Despite these niggles, the Estonian took consolation for his luck by winning three stages, leaving him in eighth place after Day 1 of the event.
For the M-Sport Team, Norway’s Mads Østberg/Ola Fløene enjoyed Day 1, taking a flat-out approach to the rally. They showed improvement on the fast-flowing roads of Finland to finish Day 1 in seventh place, +17.5 seconds shy of the podium positions.
France’s Eric Camilli/Benjamin Veillas continued their progression into the World Rally Championship by hanging in with Meeke at one point in the day’s stages. Camilli is in ninth place as he learns the art of flying on Rally Finland’s stages.
In WRC2, Britain’s Elfyn Evans was running in second, while a power steering issue in SS10 relegated the Welshman and his co-driver Craig Parry to sixth place.
Østberg said “It’s been a really fun day today – as offices go, you don’t get much better than this! We’ve had some good sections of stages, and some not so good, but that’s okay. We’re still within touching distance of the podium, and anything can happen with two days of challenging stages still to come. We’ll keep pushing.”
Camilli was happy with Day 1 of Rally Finland 2016, saying “Rally Finland is such a special event and it’s never easy for a Frenchman to go fast here, especially when they are driving a world rally car for the first time!
“We’re so happy to have set some competitive times today. I know that we have a lot more to learn before we can be consistently setting top times on these stages, but it was fantastic to challenge the guys with much more experience at times.
“The car has felt fantastic and the team have been working really hard. The aim will be to continue learning and progressing tomorrow.”
Evans added “We came here with the intention of challenging for the win so this afternoon was obviously really disappointing. I think that we showed some good speed today, but these things happen. It’s disappointing for everyone as we were on course to challenge for another really strong result.”