Finnish wildcard and IRC points leader Juho Hanninen led a Skoda rout of the new for 2010 class, doing a Citroen by locking out the top four places.
Jari Ketomaa won Friday’s opening four stages in his Fiesta, but electrical issues during service earned him a penalty for being late to time control, and Hanninen took his place at the top of the leaderboard when Ketomaa knocked a wheel off his car.
This left Matti Rantanen, a fellow wildcard entrant to the event, in second, with Per-Gunnar Andersson running the final podium place ahead of his Swedish counterpart Patrik Sandell, both of whom are former JWRC champions.
“I wasn't so worried this morning,” said Hanninen. “I knew the pace I was driving at wasn't super flat-out and I could see the gap to him [Ketomaa], it was not so bad. Okay, the gap is not so big to Rantanen and we have to stick with the speed. But the car is good, I am very happy with that. And the sun is shining – which is also nice!”
Meanwhile the Fords were struggling, languishing from 5th to 9th place in the standings after Friday’s stages – Ketomaa the last of those after retiring from the opening day, though he would return the following day.
Saturday was simply a case of keep the car on the road, which Hanninen executed perfectly. He cruised through the second day’s stages to pick up the class victory by over a minute.
“There was nothing special today because we just had to keep up the concentration and not make any mistakes,” said Hanninen. “We did that and I'm very pleased with this result.”
Rantanen however did not manage to keep his nose clean until the finish, hitting a rock on Stage 13 which broke his suspension and forced the Finn to retire. This promoted Andersson up to second, and Sandell also kept it together to round out an all-Skoda podium.
Ketomaa came back using SupeRally rules, but he didn’t even make it past the first stage, a heavy landing breaking the gearbox oil cooler and running dry on oil as a result. Albert Llovera was the only other casualty of the day, an engine fault forcing his retirement on stage 14 – though he was already last in class anyway.
Ketomaa’s retirement has made Xevi Pons‘ job easier in the drivers championship – a win for the Finn would have reduced the gap to just three points, but instead Pons now leads Andersson by 18 points – the equivalent of a 2nd placed finish.
Rally Finland Results
|1.||Juho Hanninen||Skoda Fabia S2000||2:40:34.6|
|2.||Per-Gunnar Andersson||Skoda Fabia S2000||+1:10.7|
|3.||Patrik Sandell||Skoda Fabia S2000||+1:30.0|
|4.||Martin Prokop||Ford Fiesta S2000||+4:07.2|
|5.||Michael Kosciuszko||Ford Fiesta S2000||+5:55.1|
|6.||Janne Touhino||Ford Fiesta S2000||+6:09.7|
|7.||Nasser Al-Attiyah||Ford Fiesta S2000||+17:15.5|