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1. Rovanpera crashes out however nonetheless leaves impression on rally

Kalle Rovanpera crashing out of a rally lead and fully retiring from an occasion is a uncommon collector’s merchandise. The truth is, final weekend’s shock Rally Finland exit was solely his third retirement in 41 top-flight WRC begins.

It was simply unlucky his first full retirement since Croatia 2021 got here in entrance of hundreds of passionate followers determined for one in every of their very own to finish a six-year drought for a homegrown winner.

 

Rovanpera admitted he was shocked by what he labelled a “stupid crash” as he hadn’t engaged “full ship” mode, and was seeming working inside himself to steer Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans by 5.7s after reeling off 5 consecutive stage wins. The retirement has nevertheless breathed life into the title race after Evans took most factors to chop the Finnish result in 25 factors.

Whereas chassis harm to his rolled GR Yaris in stage eight put him out of the rally on Friday, he nonetheless had an impression on the end result.

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Takamoto Katsuta, Aaron Johnston, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT NG Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Picture by: Toyota Racing

The Finn performed a job in serving to his team-mate and shut good friend Takamoto Katsuta declare a fourth profession WRC podium and his first at a European rally. After a confidence denting run in Estonia, Katsuta requested Rovanpera for some driving ideas and the 22-year-old duly obliged providing him a possibility to sit down alongside him throughout a pre-event take a look at.

Katsuta emerged from an intense combat with Hyundai’s Teemu Suninen to assert the ultimate podium, which he felt was partly down to Rovanpera’s advice.

Podium: Winners Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Podium: Winners Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Picture by: Toyota Racing

2. Toyota’s distinctive job swap and long-term dedication to the WRC

It’s not typically the boss of a serious automobile maker takes on the position of group principal for one in every of its motorsport groups, however Akio Toyoda just isn’t your common vehicle chairman.

A self-confessed motorsport and rally fan, Toyoda changed Jari-Matti Latvala as group principal for Toyota’s dwelling WRC spherical to permit the latter to bask in a one-off WRC return in a fourth GR Yaris.

Whereas Latvala tackled a few of his favorite phases, Toyoda was charged to supervise the group, waking up on the morning time for morning service, conducting media interviews and naturally fulfilling, as he put it, the group’s “cheerleader” position.

Toyoda, who claimed previous to the rally that “he loves the WRC like a child loves ice cream” is the very cause Toyota got here again to the WRC in 2017. This dedication was reaffirmed over the weekend with Toyoda confirming the model plans to compete in the WRC for the foreseeable future, backed up by revealing a mission to build a new WRC development centre in Finland.

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Picture by: Toyota Racing

Whereas Evans and Scott Martin claimed victory, the largest smiles belonged to Toyoda and Latvala, two diehard rally followers having fun with the class they love.

“It’s a incredible end result, first, third and fifth. As a principal, I’m very honoured to be with the drivers however all I can odor is champagne, I’m virtually drunk right here,” stated Toyoda within the post-event press convention.

Requested about returning to the position sooner or later, he added: “If I say sure they may at all times request me to do it and Jari-Matti will at all times need to take part [drive].” 

 

Three-time Finland winner Latvala got here dwelling in fifth, final of the Rally1 runners, however proved his class by taking a degree on the ultimate Energy Stage.

“Thanks to Akio and the group for giving me this nice alternative. It’s been one thing actually phenomenal that I’ll keep in mind for the remainder of my life,” stated Latvala.

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Workforce Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Picture by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

3. Neuville breaks 10-year Rally Finland drought

Excessive-speed gravel rallies will not be amongst Thierry Neuville’s favorite occasions, however the end result sheet now begs to vary after scoring back-to-back second-place finishes in Estonia and Finland.

Neuville’s enchancment in these situations this yr in comparison with 12 months in the past is important. Final yr the Belgian might solely end fifth in Finland, 2m18s behind winner after which team-mate Ott Tanak.

This yr the Hyundai driver claimed three stage wins on the way in which to ending second, 39.1s behind winner Evans. It was his first podium in Finland since 2013 which once more highlighted his struggles on the rollercoaster Finnish roads.

Whereas he admitted these occasions are nonetheless not his favourites, Neuville welcomed his a lot stronger exhibiting within the situations.

“It’s good to be again on the rostrum,” stated Neuville. “For certain, the final couple of years over right here have been an actual wrestle for me, however usually for Hyundai as nicely it has at all times been troublesome.

“We had good tempo all weekend and it was not like have been off however we weren’t the quickest clearly. I’m proud of the way in which we’re enhancing. We now have improved quite a bit.”

Hyundai nonetheless has work to do to shut the hole to Toyota in these quick gravel rallies, however the resolution to safe an everyday testing base in Finland is paying dividends.

Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Hyundai World Rally Workforce Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Picture by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

4. Lappi’s fortunate escape, Suninen’s save of the season

Hyundai’s Esapekka Lappi headed to Finland among the many challengers for victory however his rally ended when he and co-driver Janne Ferm have been lucky to keep away from severe harm.

Lappi had struggled to match the Toyotas within the moist situations on Friday morning earlier than all of it got here undone in scary trend on stage 5 (Halttula). An optimistic pacenote resulted within the Finnish duo heading into the timber at velocity, writing off their i20 N for the weekend.

 

Fortunately Lappi solely suffered swollen ankle whereas Ferm underwent an X-ray in hospital as a precaution.

Whereas Lappi was unable to wrestle his i20 N away from catastrophe, team-mate Teemu Suninen produced one of many saves of the season. Having inherited fourth from Lappi he was fortunate to not throw it away on stage 20 when he ran broad right into a ditch.

 

“I knew there was area [there to run wide],” he stated cooly when requested concerning the wild second. “I simply tried to maintain going and that is all I can do now.”

Suninen has earlier within the Rally Finland saves division, having recovered from this wild second in 2018 driving for M-Sport.

 
Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Workforce Ford Puma Rally1

Picture by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

5. M-Sport boss hits again at keyboard warriors after double heartbreak

The human factor in sport can typically be shortly forgotten by followers when misfortune transpires.

M-Sport has endured a tough run of fortune this season since Ott Tanak’s victory in Sweden again in February, and this difficult run of kind continued in Finland.

The British squad’s rally was successfully over on stage three following a double retirement for Tanak and Pierre-Louis Loubet, each incidents taking place inside minutes of one another. Bedrock pierced a gap in Tanak’s engine, coming off the again of an engine failure in Estonia, that ended his rally on Friday.

Loubet clipped a rock and ripped his left rear suspension from his Puma that put him out till Saturday.

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team area

M-Sport Ford World Rally Workforce space

Picture by: M-Sport

For your complete group, of which the bulk had not returned dwelling since Estonia, it was heartbreak to see their laborious work depend for nothing. Some extent M-Sport group principal Wealthy Millener was eager to deal with within the wake of criticism being directed on the group on social media.

“It’s fairly difficult in the meanwhile for us all, and these guys have been out right here for 3 weeks,” stated Millener. “They’ve not gone dwelling since Estonia. So for them to place all this effort in and for us to be the place we’re, it’s actually unhappy for everybody

“It’s a really totally different form of ambiance contained in the groups the place they perceive what’s taking place, versus what the followers see. There are two fairly totally different sides to the story.

“Clearly there’s been some honest criticism towards us, there’s some unfair criticism towards us to date this yr.

“All I’d say is the people who write these feedback want to recollect there are additionally 50 folks working very, very laborious to do that. So it’s very straightforward to sort on the {old} keyboards, however simply keep in mind concerning the different folks right here.”





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