After controlling the event confidently since the start of the weekend Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team’s Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle crossed the finish line of the Power Stage on round eight of the FIA World Rally Championship, Rally Finland. The Northern Irish and Irish crew won the event by 29.1 seconds from Jari-Matti Latvala in the VW Motorsport Polo WRC with Craig Breen and Scott Martin impressing the finish third.
For Meeke it was a case of getting his Citroen DS3 to the finish so the Northern Irishman took a conservative approach today but all the attention was on the battle between Breen and DMACK’s Ott Tanak. The Estonian started the day by winning SS21 to narrow the gap to the Irishman to just 4.8 seconds but disaster struck on the next stage as Tanak went off and out of the rally. Breen now had to deal with the challenge of Hyundai Motorsport’s Thierry Neuville who was on a real charge, the Belgian won stage SS22 and closed the gap to Breen to 6.6 seconds.
The Irishman responded on SS23 by taking his first WRC stage win and managed to complete the final stage to clinch an incredible result and one which will certainly boost his chances of a full time drive next season. Jari-Matti Latvala managed to maintain second place and came home to secure some crucial championship points.Hayden Paddon completed a strong weekend in fifth place and topped it off by setting second fastest time on the Power Stage.
Mads Ostberg was the sole M-Sport finisher in sixth place. The Norwegian had good pace and was just 23 seconds off the the podium. Andreas Mikkelsen will be disappointed with seventh. He was running in the top four for most of the weekend until an off on SS14 dropped him down the order. In WRC2 Esapekka Lappi completed an impressive weekend to win the class in his Skoda Fabia R5 and finished eight overall, he won from fellow Finn Teemu Suninen in a Fabia R5 who finished 40.7 seconds behind There was drama for Pontus Tidemand who crashed out of third on the Power Stage, the Swede and his co-driver Jonas Andersson walked away from the massive crash, Elfyn Evans rounded out the top three.
In the JWRC Ole Christian Veiby withstood a late charge from Simone Tempestini, who won three of the last four stages, to win the class by just 5.6 seconds local driver Juuso Nordgren was a minute and a half behind in third. The next round of the series takes crews to Germany for Rallye Deutschland which kicks off on August 18.