Rovanperä breaks Hyundai’s forest domination in Finland

The local driver was second fastest through SS4 but Tänak won again


Kalle Rovanperä broke Hyundai’s one-two strangehold of the Rally Finland forest stages by going second quickest on SS4, closing to just 0.1 seconds behind third placed Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans.

Rovanperä, who is celebrating his 21st birthday on Friday’s first day of rally action, was off the pace many had expected from him on the first passes and running in fifth overall for the majority of the opening leg with a collection of fourth-quickest times.

But the local driver set a strong pace on Ässämäki 2, 1.8s slower than stage winner and rally leader Ott Tänak.

“Our set-up is not so good on the first pass, for sure that’s my mistake from the testing,” Rovanperä revealed. “I didn’t do so good set-up and now it’s not so easy to fix that during the rally.”

Evans lost 1.8s to Rovanperä on SS4, admitting “it’s hard to find the balance between taking risks and being clean” but the Toyota driver is now up to third as Toyota privateer Esapekka Lappi slid down two spots to fifth place.


“I thought I did well, but yeah, I don’t know what we should do to be honest,” said a surprised Lappi who was just sixth fastest. “It was quite good push.”

Hyundai’s Tänak meanwhile has managed to increase his rally lead to 3.8s, getting the better of Craig Breen by 2.1s having changed the balance of his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC.

“The feeling is coming step-by-step,” he said.

Breen however felt he had an issue: “I have something loose in the rear of the car, I don’t know what the hell it is, the diffuser or something? I need to check that now.”

The other Hyundai of Thierry Neuville pulled another four seconds clear of Sébastien Ogier on SS4 in the pair’s slightly downbeat fight for sixth place.

Neuville’s lead over Ogier – who admitted he struggled more in the morning with road cleaning than he had hoped – now stands at 6.6s but he still couldn’t compete with the leaders.

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Photo: Hyundai Motorsport

“I had a good stage, but the guys are pushing very hard,” Neuville said. “It’s more or less powerstage mode in there so it’s really difficult.”

Takamoto Katsuta avoided the same mistake he made on the first pass of Ässämäki when he had a high-speed spin and holds eighth place, 7.5s ahead of the lead M-Sport car of Gus Greensmith. Adrien Fourmaux is another 14.8s back.

SS4 times

1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) 5m35.9s
2 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +1.8s
3 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Hyundai) +2.1s
4 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +3.6s
5 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +3.7s
6 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota) +4.3s

Leading positions after SS4

1 Tänak/Järveoja (Hyundai) 23m25.6s
2 Breen/Nagle (Hyundai) +3.8s
3 Evans/Martin (Toyota) +9.5s
4 Rovanperä/Halttunen (Toyota) +9.6s
5 Lappi/Ferm (Toyota) +9.7s
6 Neuville/Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +16.7s
7 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota) +23.3s
8 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +34.4s
9 Gus Greensmith/Chris Patterson (M-Sport Ford) +41.9s
10 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +56.7s