Breen wins SS5 to close in on Tänak’s rally lead

Hyundai continued its run of forest wins, with Breen bettering Tänak on Sahloinen-Moksi

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Craig Breen has hit back at Rally Finland leader Ott Tänak, winning his second stage of the weekend to narrow his deficit back down to just 1.5 seconds.

Breen began SS5 Sahloinen-Moksi 2 with a gap of 3.8s to his Hyundai team-mate, losing over two seconds on the previous stage as he felt something was loose at the rear of his i20 Coupe WRC.

But all appeared to be well on SS5 as he beat Tänak by 2.3s and second quickest Kalle Rovanperä by a second.

There’s been a switch around between Toyota team-mates Rovanperä and Elfyn Evans too, as Rovanperä overhauled Evans for third place on SS6 with a stage time that was 3.1s quicker.

Rovanperä had trailed by just 0.1s ahead of the test so now has a three-second cushion and is lying 8.3s shy of Tänak’s rally lead.

Evans was also passed by Toyota privateer Esapekka Lappi, who was 0.2s off the podium and is now two seconds off but has moved up to fourth as he set the fourth fastest time, 1.8s quicker than Evans.


Photo: Toyota Gazoo Racing

Sébastien Ogier – who could theoretically win the World Rally Championship title this weekend if he heavily outscores his rivals – continued to relinquish time, dropping another 4.7s to Thierry Neuville who lies ahead of him in sixth overall.

Ogier is therefore 11.3s behind the Hyundai and 32.5s down on the rally leader; a seemingly uncatchable deficit without issues for his rivals given the high-speed nature of Rally Finland.

Takamoto Katsuta, who had led the rally after SS1 before a dramatic spin on SS2, beat Ogier by four seconds on SS6 to trail by 7.1s overall.

M-Sport didn’t conduct a pre-event test for Finland and its two drivers have struggled to match the speed shown by Hyundai and Toyota.

Gus Greensmith is ninth and the lead Ford Fiesta WRC driver, 18.8s down on Katsuta but neatly also 18.8s ahead of Adrien Fourmaux.

SS5 times

1 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Hyundai) 9m56.7s
2 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +1.0s
3 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) +2.3s
4 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota) +2.9s
5 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +4.1s
6 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +6.8s

Leading positions after SS5

1 Tänak/Järveoja (Hyundai) 33m24.6s
2 Breen/Nagle (Hyundai) +1.5s
3 Rovanperä/Halttunen (Toyota) +8.3s
4 Lappi/Ferm (Toyota) +10.3s
5 Evans/Martin (Toyota) +11.3s
6 Neuville/Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +21.2s
7 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota) +32.5s
8 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +39.6s
9 Gus Greensmith/Chris Patterson (M-Sport Ford) +58.4s
10 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +1m17.2s