Kris Meeke and Craig Breen both had a positive Day 1 of Rally Finland 2016 as the rally leader Meeke takes a comfortable 18.1 second lead coming into Day 2.
Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s Meeke had built a near-20 second lead in the DS 3 after fighting with Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala and DMACK’s Ott Tänak in a close-fought battle for the lead on Day 1. However, his nearest rivals had made minor mistakes, meaning Meeke had built up a +18.1 second lead over Latvala after Day 1.
Meeke’s team-mate Craig Breen had a solid day, staying in the top five positions during the day before finishing Day 1 in fifth place, 10 seconds away from the podium.
While Khalid Al Qassimi and Chris Patterson adopted a safe and consistent pace, finishing the opening day in twenty-third place.
Meeke was surprised to finish Day 1 of Rally Finland 2016 after a two-race absence. The Northern Irishman said “I’m really surprised to have led throughout this first leg and to finish with a twenty-second lead. Latvala and Tänak were very quick today, but I managed to pull clear when they had problems. Otherwise, it was a constant battle, like it always is here. A really close fight with just a few tenths in it.
“My aim is still the same: do the best job possible. It’s not that I don’t want to, but I don’t absolutely have to win. So I’ll stick with the same strategy tomorrow, doing my best whilst staying just within the limit. It will be very difficult with two runs on Ouninpohja, in the reverse direction to recent years. I’ll have to be really focused, especially on the morning run.”
Breen added “I might just be the happiest man in Jyväskylä tonight! From start to finish, we thoroughly enjoyed every moment in the car today. Even though I have competed here many times before, you really do go a lot quicker in a World Rally Car and the feeling is immense.
“Obviously, everything wasn’t perfect, but we learned a lot, especially on the second pass. I think I can safely say that it was best day of my career as a rally driver! I didn’t think that I’d be so high up the standings and within ten seconds of the podium…”