Ott Tänak won Neste Rally Finland on Sunday afternoon ahead of Mads Østberg and Jari-Matti Latvala to give the Estonian his second win in the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship.
The Toyota driver came into the final four stages with a comfortable 39s lead over Østberg and he took a steady and controlled approach before completing his dominating performance by winning the Ruuhimäki 2 Power Stage and finishing the event 32.7s ahead of the Citroen driver.
Tänak said on his win: “How can you complain? It was a perfect weekend for us. The first day was tough but after that we just increased our gap.”
“There is full support behind us, I think that’s how it needs to be done – when we all work together. In terms of the championship let’s see where we end up.”
Østberg took his best WRC result of the season so far in second in the seemingly rejuvenated C3 WRC after Citroen’s improvements made over the summer break. The Norwegian survived a late surge by Latvala on Sunday, eventually finishing just 2.8s ahead and denying the Finnish based Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team a strong one-two finish on home soil.
Fourth overall was the fastest Hyundai of Hayden Paddon, who continued to gain pace throughout the weekend. He finished ahead of the M-Sport trio of Sébastien Ogier, Teemu Suninen and Elfyn Evans. Sunninen was asked by the team to check into a time control point late, giving him a 20s penalty but crucially moving Ogier up a place and earning two more championship points as a result.
Eighth was the second Citroen of Craig Breen with the Hyundai pair of championship leader Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen completing the top 10. Neuville throughout the weekend was hindered by a poor road position and couldn’t make up time that was lost throughout Friday and Saturday, although the Belgian did earn two extra points in his title bid for finishing fifth on the Power Stage.
Mikkelsen rolled on Friday and like his teammate couldn’t recover over the course of the rest of the event. The third Toyota driver of Esapekka Lappi was fourth going into Sunday, but retired after he rolled on the first stage of the day.
The WRC2 class finished with a Finnish one-two as Eerik Pietarinen took a commanding win in the class ahead of Jari Huttunen with British driver Gus Greensmith rounding out the podium after holding off a recovering Kalle Rovanperä.
The youngster had been leading before a smashed damper forced him down to fourth on Saturday afternoon and despite his best efforts, couldn’t get the better of Greensmith in the M-Sport Ford Fiesta R5. He did manage to win the Power Stage and earn extra championship points as a result however.
The Junior FIA World Rally Championship saw Ken Torn take his maiden class win ahead of Emil Bergkvist and Jean-Baptiste Franceschi in third. Just 9.9s separated the two drivers at the front of the field, with the pair being close throughout the entirety of the weekend.
The next round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship is ADAC Rallye Deutschland, which takes place between August 16-19.