Kris Meeke immediately rebounded from being dropped for Poland by going quickest through the warm-up stage for Rally Finland, edging out Thierry Neuville for the fastest time.
Citroën driver Meeke is the incumbent winner of last season’s edition of the rally, and despite suffering less than ideal preparation from missing Poland and his pre-event test not entirely going to plan, he was immediately on the pace.
“I was a little bit hesitant in the first run because our test here was compromised a lot by really heavy rain showers and we struggled to get any consistent conditions to do any work,” Meeke told WRC.com.
“We started this morning with different bits and pieces on the car which I had even never had on before. The first few runs were tentative, but we did a lot of changes. It was like a test session for us again and the feeling became more and more confident.”
Neuville was only a tenth slower, with Ott Tänak half a second off Meeke’s pace. Tänak inherited his position as the lead Ford thanks to Sébastien Ogier‘s quickest time being disallowed, having cut a chicane during his third run.
Jari-Matti Latvala was fourth quickest through the shakedown, but his Toyota team-mate Juho Hänninen‘s practice runs were cut short by a collision with a straw bale used to create artificial chicanes. The impact damaged the cooling of his Yaris WRC, and was left with no choice than to be towed back to service after only a single completed run.
Dani Sordo completed the top five, while Craig Breen went exactly one second slower than his Citroën team-mate Meeke.
|1.||Kris Meeke||Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT||2:14.3|
|2.||Thierry Neuville||Hyundai Motorsport||+0.1|
|3.||Ott Tänak||M-Sport World Rally Team||+0.5|
|4.||Jari-Matti Latvala||Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT||+0.6|
|5.||Dani Sordo||Hyundai Motorsport||+0.9|
|6.||Craig Breen||Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT||+1.0|
|7=||Mads Østberg||M-Sport World Rally Team||+1.3|
|7=||Hayden Paddon||Hyundai Motorsport||+1.3|
|9.||Sébastien Ogier||M-Sport World Rally Team||+1.5|
|10.||Esapekka Lappi||Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT||+1.7|