It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Rally Finland! Get ready for some yumps.
Italy was ugly for anyone contending for the title. Ogier hit a rock early on the first day and was forced to retire. Neuville found a ditch but never found the handling of his i20, finishing minutes down. Tanak meanwhile put on yet another dominant performance, going into the final stage with a 27 second lead, only to lose it all when his power steering failed in the stage, dropping him to fifth. This mess gave Dani Sordo his second career WRC victory.
Things weren’t much better in the fantasy league. Only one person managed to crack 50 points and only five cracked 40. There were only two other rounds this year where Italy’s high score of 57 would have even netted a top ten finish.
Now it’s on to the most popular event on the calendar, Rally Finland, and the drama for this one started early. Craig Breen was offered a seat at Hyundai for the event, which of course he took. This did not sit well with sidelined ex-Hyundai driver Hayden Paddon, especially after his 2018 performance for the team netted five top 5 finishes in seven starts. So Hayden called up M-Sport and they put together a deal in just two days.
Unfortunately Paddon’s hopes for Finland were put to an end early as during his pre-event test a rock in the middle of the racing line sent him off the road in what he’s called the biggest crash of his career.
Also out of the rally before it started is Elfyn Evans. Evans hurt his back at Rally Estonia and as a result is being replaced by fellow Brit Gus Greensmith.
So who do we have for Finland? Five previous winners: Latvala (the only multiple winner in the field), Lappi, Ogier, Tanak, and Meeke. Craig Breen and Thierry Neuville have never won in Finland, but both have made the podium (but only once each). Suninen hasn’t podiumed yet, but with a fourth and a sixth in his two starts here so far he’s certainly one to watch. As is Mikkelsen, who is coming off a third place finish in Italy.
M-SPORT FORD WRT - FORD FIESTA RS WRC
Gus Greensmith (GBR) - Avg last 1 rounds: 0.0 - Avg Finland: N/A
Teemu Suninen (FIN) - Avg last 10 rounds: 5.6 - Avg Finland: 10.0
HYUNDAI SHELL MOBIS WRT - HYUNDAI I20 COUPE WRC
Craig Breen (IRL) - Avg last 10 rounds: 6.2 - Avg Finland: 7.3
Thierry Neuville (BEL) - Avg last 10 rounds: 13.3 - Avg Finland: 6.3
Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) - Avg last 10 rounds: 7.0 - Avg Finland: 4.0
TOYOTA GAZOO RACING WRT - TOYOTA YARIS WRC
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) - Avg last 10 rounds: 6.0 - Avg Finland: 15.6
Ott Tänak (EST) - Avg last 10 rounds: 13.8 - Avg Finland: 8.2
Kris Meeke (GBR) - Avg last 10 rounds: 5.1 - Avg Finland: 7.3
CITROËN TOTAL ABU DHABI WRT - CITROËN C3 WRC
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) - Avg last 10 rounds: 14.4 - Avg Finland: 12.4
Esapekka Lappi (FIN) - Avg last 10 rounds: 5.6 - Avg Finland: 12.5
SINGLE CAR TEAMS AND INDEPENDENTS
Jouni Virtanen (FIN) - FORD - Avg last 0 rounds: N/A - Avg Finland: N/A