Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen are ready to pounce at the 2016 Rally Finland after finishing Day 1 in second and third places respectively.
Rally Finland definitely lived up to its nickname of the ‘roller coaster’ as extremely fast and hilly roads were on the agenda for the Polo R.
For the majority of Day 1, Latvala, Mikkelsen and Sébastien Ogier were second, third and fourth respectively behind rally leader Kris Meeke.
On SS10 ‘Surkee 2’, the Frenchman with Julien Ingrassia slipped their #1 Polo R into a ditch, losing 16 minutes despite having help from the locals to push the stricken VW back on the road. Ogier finished Day 1 in fifty-third place, fifty-one and fifty-two places behind his team-mates Latvala and Mikkelsen in second and third.
Latvala said about Day 1 of Rally Finland 2016 “It’s not easy for me to sum up today. It definitely got off to a bad start, but fortunately my slip on the fourth special stage didn’t have too much of an effect. But the puncture cost us a lot of time. After that we kept on improving our rhythm and threw everything at the task in hand.
“Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for us to overtake Kris Meeke. The advantage of the starting position is too great here in Finland. But we aren’t going to give up, we will keep driving at the limit and trying to pile on the pressure. Tomorrow’s action includes the stage “Ouninpohja”. A lot can happen; nothing is for free here.”
Mikkelsen was delighted with his Day 1 efforts in Finland, saying “I was really pleased with the handling of my Polo and with our speed. Some sections were new to me and I noticed that I was faster in places. Then I found these tracks a little easier on the second pass.
“However, the competition also stepped it up and the battle for third place couldn’t get much closer. We also have the legendary Ouninpohja stage ahead of us on Saturday – there is a lot of work to do before the finish on Sunday.”
Ogier added “There is a hairpin turn at the point at which I was too hard on the steering and wanted to cut the corner. As a result, I slid into the ditch on the inside. It was totally my mistake, and then at perhaps one of the slowest sections of the entire rally of all places. But that can happen when, like Julien and I, you have constantly been at the limit for the last six rallies.
“Initially, it didn’t look all that bad and the fans did their best to help us. Unfortunately, there weren’t as many spectators there as I would have hoped for. But without their help, Julien and I would never have got back on the track, so Kiitos!”