Finland - (J) 1-4 Aug 19

Posted: August 2, 2019 1:29 PM - 2874 Hits

Round 9 - 2019 World Rally Championship
J - Counting Round WRC Junior Championship

Live Results (Finland 2019) Also available at: rally-base results & ewrc-results.com
Radio: WRC All Live Audio Stream
News: www.wrc.com
Event Website: Rally Finland

First stage each day - Irish/UK Times
Shakedown - Thu - 07:00
SS1 Thu - 17:00 (Superspecial)
SS2 Fri - 06:18
SS12 Sat - 06:08
SS20 Sun - 06:38

Just seven points separate Ott Tänak, Sébastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville.

Posted: July 31, 2019 3:10 PM

The closest FIA World Rally Championship title fight for years resumes on Finland’s iconic roller-coaster roads this weekend with little more than a handful of points blanketing the leading trio of drivers.

Ott Tänak, six-time champion Sébastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville, whose electrifying battle for last year’s crown went down to the final morning of the concluding round, are staging a reprise that could yet exceed 2018 for excitement.

The series restarts after a mid-season break at Neste Rally Finland (1 - 4 August) with just seven points covering them. Tänak, with three 2019 wins to his credit, heads Ogier, twice a victor, by four points. Double winner Neuville lies three points further back.

Finland is the fastest event on the calendar and a jewel in the WRC’s crown. Smooth gravel roads that wind around forests and lakes near Jyväskylä, huge jumps and blind corners over crests demand bravery and pin-point accuracy in the delivery of pace notes.

Tänak is eager to put the crushing disappointment of last month’s Rally Italia Sardegna behind him, when broken steering on his Toyota Yaris deprived him of a third straight win in the closing kilometres.

He warmed up with victory on the non-championship Rally Estonia and is hot favourite to defend his 2018 win on roads in his Toyota Gazoo Racing team’s back yard.

“We will try to achieve the same result this year, but it looks as though it will be more difficult as we will be running first on the road on Friday,” said the 31-year-old Estonian.

“Three weeks ago we took part in Rally Estonia and it was great to win the rally again in front of so many fans, but it was also a really good test for Finland. I believe we learned a lot, so I’m feeling well prepared.”

Ogier’s Citroën C3 boasts a front-axle upgrade, which increases set-up options while Neuville took on a new role in the break after becoming a father for the first time to daughter Camille.

The Belgian has been supported by a rotating cast of drivers this season and Irishman Craig Breen is the latest to join the list in a Hyundai i20. At M-Sport Ford, Gus Greensmith makes his second top-flight appearance in a Fiesta in place of Elfyn Evans, who is sidelined with a back injury.

Hayden Paddon, overlooked by Hyundai despite finishing fourth last year, landed a one-off Fiesta drive, only for his plans to go awry when he crashed heavily in testing on Monday and he will not start.

The rally opens with a spectacular street stage in Jyväskylä on Thursday night and drivers face 23 tests covering 307.58km before Sunday afternoon’s finish.

Toyota Yaris WRC chases a third win on home roads

Posted: July 30, 2019 2:54 PM

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team is targeting a third Rally Finland victory in as many years when the 2019 season resumes on August 1-4. The Finnish gravel stages are the fastest on the calendar and also home roads for the Toyota Yaris WRC, developed at the team's headquarters close to the rally sevice park in Jyväskylä. The team's drivers are all previous winners of Rally Finland: Ott Tänak won with Toyota in 2018 and Kris Meeke took victory in 2016, while Jari-Matti Latvala has won his home event on three occasions (2010, '14 and '15).

The rally is held on smooth gravel roads in the forests of central Finland, which feature many large jumps and numerous crests. Accurate pace-notes and the positioning of the car are crucial to carrying maximum speed. Because of the high speeds, time differences are smaller than usual, and mistakes are more easily punished.

The route for this year's Rally Finland is similar to the 2018 event, when around 65 per cent was new. It begins on Thursday evening with the traditional mixed-surface Harju stage in Jyväskylä itself, before heading west on Friday for a total of 10 stages. Saturday is made up of eight stages to the south-west totalling 132.98 kilometres, including the returning Leustu test. The rally ends with two runs over Laukkaa and Ruuhimäki on Sunday, with the second pass of the latter as the Power Stage.

Quotes:
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“Rally Finland is of course a very special occasion for our team. We have won the rally in each of the last two years, and we have a great opportunity to make it three out of three. We know the roads and their characteristics well and we know that our car is well-suited to them. All three of our drivers really enjoy this event and have won it in the past, so I think that our chances are good. But we are taking absolutely nothing for granted: Our rivals have been working hard to improve on this event, so we need to stay focused and push for the best possible result.”

Martin Järveoja and Ott Tänak
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“I'm really looking forward to getting the second part of the season started on Rally Finland. It's a rally that I enjoy a lot with the fast and smooth roads, and it was an incredible feeling to win last year. Of course, we will try to achieve the same result this year, but it looks as though it will be more difficult, as we will be running first on the road on the Friday. Two weeks ago we took part in Rally Estonia and it was great to win the rally again in front of so many fans, but it was also a really good test for Rally Finland. I believe that we learned a lot, so I'm feeling well-prepared.”

Miikka Anttila and Jari-Matti Latvala
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“I've had a good summer break and I'm feeling ready to restart the season on Rally Finland. I tried to have some time away from rallying, but we also had a couple of days of testing to prepare for this event, and it's always enjoyable to be back driving on fast gravel roads here in Finland. These are the roads where I feel at home, and I always get a lot positive support during the week of the rally. Last year, it's where our season took a more positive turn with a podium finish and I hope we can do similar this time. The speed is there on gravel, we know that from the last few events, so now we just need to try and secure a good result.”

Seb Marshall and Kris Meeke
Kris Meeke (Driver car 5)
“Rally Finland is definitely one of my favourite events with some special memories for me, and I'm really looking forward to taking it on with the Yaris WRC. Finland is where I got my first taste of this car, and we tested there again last week, and the car always feels incredible to drive on those roads. It was developed in Finland and we've seen in the last two years just how strong it can be on this rally. I think that everyone in the team is feeling confident about the second part of the season, and hopefully we can kick-start that with a great result in Finland. I'm going to be at a bit of a disadvantage because a lot of the route will be new for me, but I'm ready for the challenge.”

What happened last year?
Ott Tänak claimed a commanding win on Rally Finland, finishing over half a minute clear of his nearest rivals. For the second year in a row, two Toyota Yaris WRCs finished on the podium in Finland, with Jari-Matti Latvala claiming third. The Yaris WRC was quickest on 18 out of 23 stages, with Esapekka Lappi also showing speed to climb to fourth before a crash on the final morning.

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team is inspired by the motto: “ALL FOR WIN” as it competes throughout the 2019 season. Our goal in 2019 is to fight for all three crowns. All team members are aiming for this big goal together. We look forward to your continuous support!

Hyundai Motorsport Preview – Round 9: Rally Finland

Posted: July 30, 2019 2:52 PM

Hyundai Motorsport returns from the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) summer break determined to defend its lead in the manufacturers’ standings, as the 2019 season heads to Rally Finland, round nine of the 14-event calendar.

The team enjoyed a competitive result at Rally Italia Sardegna last month, taking victory and third place to extend its advantage in the classification. The aim is to pick up where it left off at one of the most exciting but demanding events of the year.

Rally Finland, the fifth consecutive gravel event, is notorious for being the fastest on the calendar. Even the smallest of mistakes can be costly with fractions of seconds making a big difference on the timesheets. Crews will have to trust in their pace notes and fully commit; the Rally Finland challenge includes blind crests and jumps moving immediately into fast corners, and wide-open roads giving way to narrower and technical sections.

Hyundai Motorsport will field a revised three-crew line-up for Finland with Irishmen Craig Breen and Paul Nagle stepping into the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC alongside Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul and Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger-Amland.

All three crews have had the opportunity to test on Finnish roads ahead of the rally in order to prepare as diligently as possible. Mikkelsen and Breen also participated in the Rally Estonia WRC promotional event earlier this month on fast and flowing roads similar to those which will be faced in Finland.

Team Director Andrea Adamo said:
“We return from the summer break, but we have been continuing to prepare ourselves for the challenges that await in this second part of the season. Finland will offer us a very stern test, one which we need to tackle head-on. We have made a slight change to our crew composition for this rally, bringing in the experience of Craig and Paul to support our championship efforts alongside Thierry/Nicolas and Andreas/Anders. Meanwhile, we have also been working hard on the i20 Coupe WRC to prepare it for Finland’s high-speed gravel roads. It is a rally like no other and we want to be in the mix from the start.”

Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (#11 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Belgian crew maintaining pressure in the drivers’ championship, seven points from lead
Crew aiming to make headway with a strong Finnish weekend

Neuville said: “Finland is a challenging event, and one I enjoy driving. You have a lot of good sensations in the car and a lot of adrenaline, especially after the huge jumps. It’s what we drivers really love and I’m hoping it will be a good event for our team this year, as we aim to defend our manufacturers’ position. We are also only seven points from first place in the drivers’ championship, and our aim is to close that gap even further in Finland.”

Crew Notes: Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jæger-Amland (#89 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Podium at Rally Italia Sardegna showed Norwegians’ competitive edge
A strong second place in Estonia acted as perfect preparation for Finland

Mikkelsen said: “The road profiles in Finland are so different to any other rally: the surface is really hard. A lot of the roads are quite wide and it’s very fast with a lot of blind crests and jumps, so you have to be very committed and trust your pace notes. When you feel comfortable there, it’s the most beautiful rally in the world – but if you don’t, it’s the worst place on earth. We want to be back fighting at the front of the pack, just as we were in Sardinia.”

Crew Notes: Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (#42 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Irish crew set for their debut with Hyundai Motorsport
Breen took his maiden WRC podium at the 2016 edition of Rally Finland

Breen said: “Rally Finland is very close to my heart. It’s the event I’ve done the most and this year marks ten years since I first competed there. I have a lot of amazing memories from the start of my career and my first podium there in 2016. It’s a rally I always enjoy with fast roads and flying in the forests. I’m really looking forward to it this year in the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC.”

Weekend at a glance
23 stages run over a competitive distance of 307.58km
Action begins with 2.31km sprint Harju 1 in central Jyväskylä
Friday covers ten stages totalling a distance of 126.55km in the west
Saturday is the longest distance of the rally, with eight stages spanning 132.98km
On Sunday crews will move east for two classic stages: Laukaa and the big jumps of Ruuhimäki are each repeated once.

M-Sport - JUMPING BACK INTO ACTION AT RALLY FINLAND / REMEMBERING MANUS KELLY / PADDON NOT STARTING

Posted: July 30, 2019 2:41 PM

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs will jump back into action at next weekend’s Neste Rally Finland – the FIA World Rally Championship returning to its spiritual home after a six-week break in the calendar.

Finnish star Teemu Suninen will be joined by Gus Greensmith and Hayden Paddon – Elfyn Evans having to delay his return to the top-specification Fiesta as he recovers from a back injury sustained at Rally Estonia earlier this month.

Suninen contested a two-day test in the lead-up to the event, with Greensmith also making the most of a day’s preparation behind the wheel of the Fiesta. Paddon will experience the power and performance of the top-specification Fiesta for the first time on Monday; and all three crews are geared up to make a big impression on what is one of rallying’s most anticipated weekends.

Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:

“The team are really motivated heading into the second half of the season. We’ve already proven our speed, and now it’s time to bring everything together in pursuit of more podiums as well as that sought-after victory over the next six events.

“We’ve had a productive break with tests in Finland as well as Rally Estonia, and we feel well prepared. The competition will be tough, but we have made some positive steps forward – with new dampers developed specifically for Finland – and we’ve got a good chance of a strong result.

“Obviously it’s a massive shame not to have Elfyn and Scott [Martin, co-driver] with us. Elfyn’s always gone well at this event, but we’ve still got three exciting crews. We wanted to be as competitive as we could be, and that’s why we’ve stuck with a three-car team this weekend.

“It was discussed that Gus would do a second event in the World Rally Car, so we fast-tracked that idea and it will be interesting to see how his pace improves. We’re also really fortunate to have Hayden with us. He’s got loads of experience, great speed and is very determined to do well. He’s spent some time with the engineers and technicians over the past few days, and shown that he’s ready to make the most of the opportunity.

“Speaking of being determined to do well, Teemu is really excited about his home event. I think he found the summer break particularly long, and can’t wait to get back behind the wheel. Like a lot of people, I’m excited to see what he can do – especially coming off the back of a career-best result in Sardinia and with Jarmo [Lehtinen, co-driver] alongside him!”

RALLY FINLAND THE SPIRITUAL HOME

Rally Finland is often considered the sport’s spiritual home, and every driver wants to win there – where bravery and commitment are more important than anywhere else. The Finns even have a name for the special mind-set needed to conquer their legendary rally – ‘Sisu,’ a local term which literally translates to having guts.

And guts are needed, because Rally Finland is fast – seriously fast. Nine of the ten fastest rallies in WRC history were recorded there and the blisteringly quick roads are interspersed with huge jumps that demand expert focus and precision.

The competition is close at the best of times, but in Finland it’s even closer. The smallest of mistakes can be costly, and pin-point accuracy is required from every single member of the team. The drivers must faultlessly land every jump. The co-drivers must flawlessly time every pacenote. And the team must ensure the Fiestas are perfectly set-up for the Finnish forests.

TEEMU SUNINEN JARMO LEHTINEN

Teemu Suninen and Jarmo Lehtinen will be looking to challenge for the top results when they contest their home event at next weekend’s Rally Finland. As a former Flying Finn Future Star, Suninen has always impressed on home soil and will have a previous winner alongside him this year – Lehtinen winning the event alongside Mikko Hirvonen in 2009.

Contesting the Finnish fixture for the third time with the top-specification Fiesta, Suninen has more experience here than anywhere else and completed a comprehensive two-day test in preparation. The competition will be tough, but the young Finn is ready for the challenge and eager to impress following a career-best second place in Sardinia.

Previous starts: 5
Best result: 4th (2017)

Teemu Suninen said:

"The summer break was long – really long – and I can’t wait to get back in the rally car. Rally Finland is one of my favourites and there is something special about rallying at home – so of course I want to do well there.

“I would say that I’m in a better pace this year than I was last year, and my experience is on a level now where I can compete for the good results. We had a good two-day test last week and the car feels a lot more competitive than it was 12 months ago.

“But of course our rivals will also have made some steps forward and we need to stay realistic. Last year I finished sixth, so my aim is to at least do one better than that.”

GUS GREENSMITH ELLIOTT EDMONDSON

Having made their World Rally Car debut at Rally de Portugal earlier this year, Gus Greensmith and Elliott Edmondson are back behind the wheel of the Ford Fiesta WRC sooner than expected – standing in for Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin as the Welshman recovers from a back injury.

Just 33 hours after receiving the call, Greensmith was back behind the wheel of the top-specification Fiesta – powering through the Finnish forests and preparing for his second appearance at the sport’s highest level. And despite the challenges ahead, he and Edmondson are ready to make the most of the opportunity.

Previous starts: 4
Best result: 13th (2018)

Gus Greensmith said:

“I want to wish Elfyn a full and speedy recovery. These aren’t the circumstances in which we wanted to be back behind the wheel of the World Rally Car, but it’s the cards we’ve been dealt and I’m really proud that M-Sport and Ford saw us as the best crew for the job.

“Rally Finland gives you so much satisfaction behind the wheel, and I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like with the Fiesta WRC – this rally and this car blow my mind every time!

“We had a strong debut in Portugal, but there are still many aspects we need to improve and Finland will be an even bigger challenge. I tend to go quite well on the faster rallies, and if we can make a good step forward I’ll be happy.

“I had six months to prepare for Portugal, but for Finland it was more like six hours! I got the call and was on my way to the test the very next day. It was total madness, but I felt really comfortable really quickly. The test team did a fantastic job and I think we’ve got a competitive package for the rally.

“But I’ll still need to take the, ‘don’t run before you can walk,’ attitude into next week. I’ve proved my potential, but the reality is that there is a mountain to climb before I’ll be in a position to challenge for the podium. I know that, and I need to get as much experience as possible under my belt.”

HAYDEN PADDON JOHN KENNARD

Hayden Paddon and John Kennard are making a welcome return to the FIA World Rally Championship next weekend – contesting Rally Finland for the tenth time alongside the team they made their World Rally Car debut with six years ago.

Journeying to Cumbria earlier this week, Paddon was in the workshop – learning everything he needs to know about the Fiesta and reacquainting himself with the team. He and Kennard will next contest a pre-event test on Monday, and have every intention of getting quickly up to speed to challenge for a top result.

Previous starts: 9
Best result: 4th (2018)

Hayden Paddon said:

“We’re really eager to get underway at Rally Finland. It’s been a long time away, and we’re looking forward to getting back in the car. Everyone at M-Sport has been really accommodating and I’ve been in the workshop this week – getting used to the car and the team before taking to the wheel for the first time at the test on Monday.

“It’s going to be an enjoyable rally, and we need to enjoy it first and foremost. But at the same time we’re not just here to make up the numbers. We want to make the most of the opportunity, and naturally want to be competitive.

“We still need keep our expectations in check – we’ve been out of the game for eight months and that could make it quite hard to bridge the gap. But I’m sure we’ll be able to build our speed as the rally progresses, and if the feeling is there from the start then John and I have the experience and the confidence to be mixing it at the top.

“All of the ingredients for a good rally are there, and we hope to put all the pieces of the puzzle together for a good result next week.”

WELCOMING A NEW PARTNER

M-Sport Ford are proud to welcome a new partner as Kuma Bikes supply the team’s transport needs throughout busy event weekends. Delivering green and efficient transport solutions, the innovative eBike company have provided two K1 Bikes – so fans can expect to see the drivers and technicians navigating the world’s service parks on this sporty model.

Kuma Bikes Managing Director, Kevin Lacey, said:

“Kuma Bikes is a new and innovative eBike company providing a green and efficient transport solution that is an ideal fit for the motorsport environment. We are delighted that our bikes will be used by the drivers and team members at various events around the globe. We are sure our bikes will be a great help to all the team members and look forward to seeing them in action. We are proud to be associated with the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team and look forward to a long, successful partnership.”

M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“It’s fantastic to welcome Kuma Bikes to the team. Green energy is a big talking point at the moment, and it’s great for us to have them on board – transporting our team and drivers around the Service Parks of the FIA World Rally Championship.”

REMEMBERING MANUS KELLY

The M-Sport Ford World Rally Team will remember Manus Kelly and his passion for rally during next week’s Neste Rally Finland. The Irishman tragically lost his life during this year’s Donegal International Rally, but rallying is a tight-knit community and his love and passion for the sport will not be forgotten. In commemoration, the Ford Fiesta WRCs will carry his memorial ribbon.



Update


THE C3 WRC ALL SET TO SHOW OFF ITS ACROBATIC TALENTS!

Posted: July 30, 2019 2:39 PM

As is traditional, the WRC returns to action after the summer break at Rally Finland, one of the highlights of the season, for round nine of the championship. Ultra-fast stages on roller-coaster roads provide a unique challenge, and Citroën Total World Rally Team crews Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm, both former winners of the prestigious event, will be determined to keep their run of podium finishes going here.

Runners-up last year, with a total of five stage wins, the C3 WRC was the only car able to disrupt the domination of the local team. Having already secured seven podiums this season, including two wins (Monte-Carlo and Mexico), the Citroën-developed machine will be taking on this iconic championship event hoping, at the very least, to match last year’s performance. This is especially the case as the Ogier – Ingrassia and Lappi – Ferm crews have both already won here, in 2013 and 2017 respectively. They are clearly comfortable with the subtle demands of this tricky, high-speed balancing act, where speed, precision and confidence are the vital ingredients!

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are one of the few non-Scandinavian crews to win this event, which has long been dominated by Nordic drivers. Currently second in the championship (just four points behind the leader) and looking for a seventh consecutive world title, they will start the event in the C3 WRC with very high hopes.

Like Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia in 2008, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm made their debut at this event in a C2 R2 Max three years later. However, the similarities end there between the Citroën Total World Rally Team crews: Lappi and Ferm won this rally on just their fourth outing in a WRC, thus confirming their rapid rise through the ranks at the time and their undeniable talent. There is no doubt that they will be determined to do well again this year at their home WRC event, driven on by the Finnish spirit, Sisu, this special form of grit and bravery that enables Finns to up their game when competing at home. The fact that the pair will be running eighth on the road may also prove to be a significant advantage if the weather stays dry.

With Lappi – Ferm competing at Rally Estonia, on similar types of roads, followed by three days of testing in Finland, the French team has given them every chance of performing well here. The C3 WRC will feature a wider set of set-up options on its front axle in Finland, having used an upgrade token to make changes and after these options were successfully reviewed in pre-event testing.

REACTIONS FROM…

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal

“With its high speeds and the invariably very small gaps between crews, this round is like no other. You really need to come to the start line full of confidence and ready to go for it straight away. There’s no time to get your eye in... We have prepared as best we could by competing at Rally Estonia, and we were able to fine-tune the set-up of C3 WRC during the three-day pre-event test in Finland on roads similar to those we’ll face during the race. We’ll be introducing an upgrade to our front axle at this event, to enable our drivers to have a wider range of set-up options. In any case, with two former winners in our ranks, we are well equipped to challenge and our target will be to keep up our run of podiums.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver

“This rally, contested pretty much in the back yard of one of our main competitors, is set to be a serious challenge. But I was able to recharge my batteries during the summer break and I feel fresh. As usual, I’m ready to put up a fight. With the high speeds on the stages, this is definitely a rally where you need to be completely at one with your car in order to really go for it and I have to say that I finished my two days of testing with a good feeling in the C3 WRC. The upgrade introduced at this round means we’ll have better options in terms of set-up for the rest of the season.”

Number of appearances at the event: 11

Number of wins: 1 (2013)

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver

“After getting our bearings at high speed in Estonia, we were able to fine-tune the basic set-up during the test day held afterwards in Finland. We had increased grip and the handling of the C3 WRC was further improved. This event is obviously something special for all of us. The main thing is to enjoy it, and if I can do that, then the result will come naturally. In any case, I feel confident and I’m determined to do my best.”

Number of appearances at the event: 7

Number of wins: 1 (2017)

CAMILLI DEBUTS ALL-NEW FIESTA R5 IN FINLAND

Posted: July 30, 2019 2:38 PM

Éric Camilli and Benjamin Veillas will give the all-new EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R5 its FIA World Rally Championship debut next week – tackling the famous stages of Neste Rally Finland.

The Frenchman tested the car during its design and development and was behind the wheel when it made its first public appearance as the VIP car for Belgium’s Ypres Rally.

In preparation for its maiden WRC 2 Pro outing, the team have completed a comprehensive test and are ready to contest the most iconic event in the rallying calendar.

Éric Camilli said:
“It’s great to be back competing with M-Sport. This is where my career properly started, and they are a very special team for me. Back in 2016 I was a young driver with very little experience, but they gave me an incredible opportunity and I’m really happy to be back with this new car.

“It’s also great to be back competing at Rally Finland. It’s one of my favourite events and the roads here are made for rallying. With the speed, the jumps, the cuts and the technical sections – you have absolutely everything you need to enjoy being at the wheel of a rally car!

“The competition in WRC 2 Pro is incredibly strong – and we’re expecting a big challenge as the Finns always go well at home – but we will give our best and work hard to deliver a strong result.”

PREPARE FOR TAKE-OFF: FIA JUNIOR WRC SETS CRUISING ALTITUDE FOR RALLY FINLAND

Posted: July 30, 2019 2:30 PM

The penultimate round of the 2019 FIA Junior WRC Championship is the highlight of the FIA World Rally Championship calendar.

In their quest for FIA World Rally Championship glory, every crew wants to impress on Rally Finland’s 23 speed tests as a total of 48 points are up for grabs.

The championship fight is heating up, just 15 points separate the top-three with 142 still available thanks to double points at the final round of the season on Rally GB.

Dennis Rådström and Jan Solans both have 19 stages wins this season, more than any other driver in FIA Junior WRC.

Tom Kristensson is the only driver to finish on every FIA Junior WRC podium this season. It is the largest FIA Junior WRC entry of the 2019 season as AKK Sport’s Flying Finn Future Star award winner joins the pack.

The need for ‘sisu’
‘Sisu’ is the word Finns use to describe implacable courage, which is something of a necessity to overcome Rally Finland’s challenges.
The majority of Finland’s stages are smooth gravel roads allowing this year’s FIA Junior WRC drivers to push their Pirelli-shod EcoBoost-powered M-Sport Fiesta R2Ts in excess of 150 kph. Such high speeds mean there is little room for error as the majority of the flat-out sections are lined by rally-ending ditches and trees.

The jumps and speed of Rally Finland make it the most spectacular rally of the season, attracting crowds from around the world. Drivers with experience on Rally Finland are certainly at an advantage here as smaller jumps aren’t so obvious during recce and have been known to catch inexperienced competitors out in previous years. Dennis Rådström, Julius Tannert, Tom Williams and Enrico Oldrati have all competed on Rally Finland in FIA Junior WRC in previous years.

Tyres
The EcoBoost power of the M-Sport Fiesta R2T is nothing without the control of its Pirelli tyres, FIA Junior WRC’s exclusive tyre partner. For Rally Finland, the future stars of WRC can use a maximum of 22 tyres including shakedown and can choose from 10 Pirelli Scorpion Reinforced K4 (Hard) and 16 Pirelli Reinforced K6 (Soft).

Finland’s Future Stars
This year’s AKK Flying Finn Future Star award winner, Sami Pajari, will join the FIA Junior WRC field and make his debut in the FIA World Rally Championship. Although new to FIA Junior WRC, Pajari is very accustomed to Finnish rallying and will be one to keep an eye on throughout the rally. Joining Pajari is co-patriot Aleksi Royhkio who is also a member of the AKK Flying Finn Academy.

FIA Junior WRC Championship Manager, Maciej Woda, said:
“It’s time for the home of rallying and, like every Junior WRC rally so far this season, Rally Finland promises to be a thriller. There is a very intense and exciting championship fight developing now and I think we are going to see a tough fight for stage win points between some of our fast crews. This rally sees the fastest drivers rise to the top, those that are able to keep a cool head and stay focussed will do well. Having Sami Pajari and Aleksi Röyhkiöwith us is another exciting element and I am sure it will provide them both with great experience on their WRC debuts. I will be interested to see how Sami gets on as the Flying Finn Future Star award winner, he’s following in some talented footsteps by winning that award.”

    71 Jan Solans / Mauro Barreiro:
    “It's time to face Rally Finland, one of the most difficult rallies for me, it is a rally that is usually difficult when you participate for the first time. Right now, I'm the leader of the championship and if I want to win, I need to get a good result here.”

    72 Tom Kristensson / Henrik Appelskog:
    “Rally Finland! Formula 1 on gravel! I like the fast roads, character and atmosphere. If I get the feeling that I want and think, then the rally will be great and for sure really fun.”

    73 Dennis Rådström / Johan Johansson:
    “Rally Finland feels like a second-home event for us, it´s a legendary event that we already had a taste of twice before. Fast, flowing and tricky stages: this is something we are really looking forward to. We are aiming to keep climbing on the podium as we have done since our crash at home in Sweden.”

    74 Julius Tannert / Jürgen Heigl:
    "Rally Finland is an iconic and unique rally. Every driver dreams of this event and I feel very privileged to compete in this high-speed rally for the third time. Thus, Sardinia was not as good as we had hoped, we have to fight for a strong result to make a step up in the championship. I can’t wait to start the rally.”

    75 Roland Poom / Ken Jarveoja:
    “Rally Finland is first rally of the season where I have previously driven. We had really good preparation in Rally Estonia and made some setup changes for Finland, so I think we feel quite confident with the car. It will be a really difficult event for sure and we need to be 100% focused there, not to make any mistakes and drive fast on the roads.”

    76 Tom Williams / Phil Hall:
    “Phil and I are really looking forward to driving on the legendary Finnish roads again. This is one of my favourite events as it is a huge challenge to make pace notes and have commitment on such high-speed undulating roads. We need to carry on improving and learning to be better against the fierce competition in the Junior WRC.”

    78 Raul Badiu / Gabriel Lazar:
    “Since it is my first season in WRC, I am growing in both speed and reliability. I am confident I can continue this trend, even though Rally Finland is a different challenge to anything else. This is the most iconic event on the calendar; the rally that I've been dreaming all my life to compete at and now, finally, I can achieve this. It will be a huge challenge with tough competition, so I am really looking forward to starting the rally. It should be considered that on Rally Finland, experience plays a bigger role than at other events and I have no experience on these roads.”

    79 Enrico Oldrati / Elia de Guio:
    “We are ready for the fastest event of the year. We have been to San Marino to keep improving the feeling with the pace notes, crests and the fast turns, even if the roads are different to Finland. We will see what happens.”

    80 Sean Johnston / Alex Kihurani:
    “This is the event that I’ve been waiting for! Of all the rounds of FIA Junior WRC, this is the one that’s excited me the most as Rally Finland has always been one of my favourite rallies to follow along and watch. I really enjoy fast, flowing roads and the addition of all the crests and jumps is sure to make the experience even better. Thanks to a short break in our schedule, Alex and I have been preparing even more for this rally and we’re excited to get out there and do our best.”

    82 Nico Knacker / Michael Wenzel:
    “I‘m really happy to be coming to another gravel rally. My first kilometres on gravel on Rally Sardegna were really instructive for me, but Rally Finland has a completely different character: really fast roads. I think that’s good for me to improve my gravel skills. I’m working on my gravel pace notes and hopefully I can minimize the time interval to the other Junior WRC drivers.”

    83 Sami Pajari/ Antti Haapala:
    “I’m really excited about this rally as my debut in the WRC, it’s a dream come true for me to compete in this event. The main goal for the rally is to get as much experience as possible. It would be nice to drive carefully to finish and at the same time improve my pace stage by stage. For sure it will be a huge challenge for us but I am still really looking forward to it.”

    84 Aleksi Röyhkiö / Ville Mannisenmaki:
    “This is really going to be a tough challenge. It is my first ever WRC rally and the competition will be tough. I am really looking forward to Neste Rally Finland, because I have an opportunity to show my speed. We will prepare properly and I’m sure that we are ready for this challenge!”

EVANS TO MISS FINLAND

Posted: July 17, 2019 10:45 AM

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans will miss the next round of the FIA World Rally Championship – the Welshman being advised not to contest Neste Rally Finland on medical grounds having suffered a heavy landing at last weekend’s Rally Estonia.

Currently sitting fourth in the championship standings, Evans will now focus on making a full and swift recovery to continue what has been a strong performance from him and co-driver Scott Martin so far this season.

Replacing Evans and Martin in the #33 EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC are Gus Greensmith and Elliott Edmondson. The young Brits made their debut behind the wheel of a world rally car earlier this year, and will complete a pre-event test on location in Finland tomorrow.

Elfyn Evans said:
“I’m absolutely gutted to be missing Rally Finland, but we suffered a pretty heavy landing in Estonia and have been advised to sit it out and focus on making a full and quick recovery. It’s a hard one to take right now, but I have to trust the advice of the experts and the team have all been really supportive. I’ll now focus on my recovery, and getting back behind the wheel as soon as possible.”

Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“It’s obviously a real shame for everyone not to see Elfyn and Scott in Finland, but when you’re medically advised not to contest an event that’s not something you can ignore. Finland is such a physically demanding rally, and Elfyn’s fitness is our main concern. He has the full support of the team and is already focused on making a quick recovery.

“After their impressive debut with the world rally car earlier this year, we felt it only right to offer the seat to Gus and Elliott. I know they’ll make the most of this opportunity, and they’ll have a pre-event test tomorrow to ensure they’re as prepared as they can be for the challenges ahead.”

M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“I’ve already told Elfyn that the car will be waiting for him as soon as he’s fit, but his wellbeing is our number one priority and we need to ensure he’s fully recovered before getting back behind the wheel. Gus will take Elfyn’s place in Finland and I’m intrigued to see what he can deliver, but our primary focus is getting Elfyn fully recovered and back to continue what has been a really strong season for him and Scott.”

Seeded Entry List

Posted: July 17, 2019 10:44 AM

PADDON TO FLY WITH FIESTA IN FINLAND

Posted: July 3, 2019 4:19 PM

Hayden Paddon and John Kennard will take to the wheel of the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC at next month’s Neste Rally Finland. Making a welcome return to the FIA World Rally Championship, the New Zealanders will pilot a third M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Fiesta and will be eligible to score manufacturer points for the Cumbrian squad.

Paddon made his first appearance behind the wheel of a world rally car when contesting RallyRACC Catalunya with the Ford Fiesta RS WRC in 2013, and went on to become one of the sport’s most popular and celebrated drivers.

A regular on the world stage, he secured his first podium in 2015 and a maiden victory soon followed with an unforgettable performance at the 2016 edition of Rally Argentina.

Proficient on all surfaces, the Kiwi has eight top-three finishes to his name and will be looking to deliver another strong performance when he returns to the Fiesta for his 80th appearance on the world stage.

Thanks to his backers in New Zealand, Paddon will become the 14th driver to take to the wheel of the top-specification Fiesta at rallying’s highest level – the car which has delivered five FIA World Rally Championships, nine victories and 31 podiums over the past two and a half years.

This will also be Paddon’s tenth appearance at the Finnish fixture, and he and Kennard will complete a one-day test in preparation – familiarising themselves with the award-winning Fiesta and reacquainting themselves with the M-Sport family.

Hayden Paddon said:

“Both John and I are very excited to be back – especially as it has been so hard to watch from the side-lines. M-Sport have been so welcoming even in the short period since this deal has been put together which gives me great confidence that we will be able to work together to achieve a great result on one of my favourite events on the calendar.

“Huge thanks also to our long-term partner Hyundai NZ who have allowed us to take the opportunity and encouraged us. We are lucky to have the support that we do from New Zealand and abroad.”

Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:

“It’s great to see Hayden back in the FIA World Rally Championship, and we’re all excited to see what he can do behind the wheel of the Fiesta. He’s a proven rally winner, and it’s great for us to have a driver of his calibre as we set our sights on another strong performance.

“The deal came together pretty quick, so it’s great that we were able to do something at short notice. Hayden is extremely determined and has the potential to deliver a really exciting performance. Like every rally fan, I’m looking forward to seeing him and John back in the championship!”

Hyundai Motorsport reveals Rally Finland line-up - Craig Breen/Paul Nagle to drive i20 WRC

Posted: June 25, 2019 4:03 AM

Hyundai Motorsport has revealed its line-up for Rally Finland, round nine of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), will be Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul, Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger-Amland and Craig Breen/Paul Nagle.

The team has put collective experience at the heart of its crew choice for one of the fastest and most challenging rounds on the WRC calendar, opting to bring in Irishman Craig Breen to partner Neuville and Mikkelsen.

Breen will be a new addition to the Hyundai Motorsport squad, in a one-off rally to bolster the team’s championship efforts. A 1-3 result in Sardinia helped increase its advantage in the manufacturers’ table to 46 points with six rounds remaining.

Running the number #42 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC in Finland, Breen will have sufficient opportunities to get up to speed ahead of the WRC event. A seat fitting to be held at the team’s Alzenau facility today (June 25) will be followed by a pre-event test (PET), as well as participation in Rally Estonia (July 12-14). Mikkelsen will also join that event as representative preparation for the fast Finnish stages.

The high-speed nature of the Finnish roads demands a specific driving style with no room for error and with split seconds making a major difference on the classification. Breen took his first WRC podium in Finland in 2016, and has competed there each year since 2009, with the sole exception of 2013.

Team Director Andrea Adamo said: “Rally Finland is a very particular type of event that warrants an approach like no other on the calendar. It’s a huge challenge for teams and crews alike. With the championship battle entering a critical phase, and competition being so close among the manufacturers, we have brought Craig Breen into our line-up for Finland. He has demonstrated his class at this event in the past and has a lot of experience, which will be invaluable to us. We are making sure he has enough preparation with Rally Estonia, an event similar in style to Finland, and the pre-event test. We welcome Craig and Paul to Hyundai Motorsport for this rally and look forward to seeing what they can do alongside Thierry/Nicolas and Andreas/Anders. ”

Craig Breen said: “I am chuffed to be given this chance to join Hyundai Motorsport for Rally Finland, and to get back in a world rally car. It’s been a long and patient wait, having to watch everyone else drive this year. I am honoured to have this one-off opportunity with Paul as my co-driver. Finland is the rally I’ve done most in the WRC so I hope I can bring something to the team. I am getting plenty of seat time before Finland. It will remain a challenge but one I am ready to grasp with both hands. I’ll be competing with the #42, a number I’ve raced with since my first year in karting in 1998, and that has always been very lucky. Let’s hope it remains that way!”

Rally Guide / Website / Details

Posted: May 30, 2019 7:34 AM

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