Takamoto Katsuta won the second and final pass of the Harju stage, but it’s Ott Tänak who holds the lead of Rally Finland after Friday’s second loop.
Friday’s second loop of Rally Finland was trimmed to just two competitive stages as concerns over the positioning of spectators led to the cancelation of SS5.
The second of those was a repeat of Thursday night’s curtain-raiser, Harju, on the streets of Jyväskylä but it wasn’t a Hyundai that topped it.
Instead, Katsuta shot to the top of the timesheets – just as he had in 2021 – while Tänak was second quickest to pull a further eight tenths clear of his rival for the lead, Esapekka Lappi.
Craig Breen avoided repeating the small mistake he made on Harju the first time through on Thursday, but he did drop 0.8seconds to Elfyn Evans who now holds third place by 2.4s.
Ironically, that’s the biggest time gap between Evans and Breen on any stage all day, despite it being the shortest.
World championship leader Kalle Rovanperä is now the closest Toyota to Breen’s M-Sport Ford, lurking 1.8s adrift
Rovanperä did lose time to Breen on Harju, dropping 2.1s to stage winner Katsuta to lead him by just two seconds overall.
Thierry Neuville is an uncustomary seventh place after struggling with rear traction in his Hyundai. But on the predominantly asphalt Harju street stage, that had less of an effect and Neuville equalled his rally-leading team-mate Tänak on the stage.
Pierre-Louis Loubet handed that seventh place to Neuville on the previous stage that ran due to a stall off the start-line. The M-Sport driver had reported an issue with the launch procedure and was concentrating hard to get it right at the start of Harju, which he managed to do – losing just 1.5s over the stage.
Jari Huttunen is just 0.2s behind Loubet overall after an impressive fourth fastest time on Harju, just four tenths shy of stage winner Katsuta’s effort.
The shortened loop may have been what most drivers didn’t want but it was a blessing for Adrien Fourmaux who had been starting at the prospect of contesting three stages without his power-steering.
However the extremely tight and twisty Harju stage was a nightmare to drive without the assistance, and Fourmaux visibly struggled to wrestle his Puma through some of the corners.
He’s nowhere in the leaderboard following, ironically, broken steering on the second stage in the morning, so his 20.5s time loss won’t be of grave concern.
The third loop of Rally Finland gets underway in a couple of hours, comprising two stages that are then repeated.