Tänak ends Arctic day two on top, Ogier crashes

A stunning stage win for Neuville ended Saturday's action after Ogier lost 20 minutes to a late crash


Thierry Neuville stormed to his first stage win of Arctic Rally Finland on Saturday’s finale, closing to just 1.8 seconds behind Kalle Rovanperä in the battle for second place as Ott Tänak continues to lead the event.

Neuville wasn’t happy on Saturday morning as the communication in the car between him and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe was sub-optimal.

But the Hyundai driver had a much stronger afternoon, moving into third on SS7 at team-mate Craig Breen’s expense and then swiping a massive 13.1s from Rovanperä on SS8.

Neuville’s time was so irresistible it was an astonishing 12.3s better than anybody else.

“It was a really good stage, yes,” Neuville said when asked if it was the perfect run.

“The car was working really, really nice. Since the communication is working better I can push harder without making mistakes but we still need to improve, I’m not happy yet.”


Photo: Hyundai Motorsport

Rovanperä had taken his first stage win of the weekend on SS7 but feared he may have taken too much out of his tires. Ultimately he proved himself right.

“I think Thierry did the right choice with the tires because he was saving one new for the stage, it was pretty clever from him I have to say” Rovanperä said.

“Tomorrow we have to push and see what we can do.”

Ott Tänak was second fastest on SS8 to preserve his comfortable rally lead. He heads Toyota’s Rovanperä by 24.1s with two stages to go on Sunday.

“Yeah all to plan,” he said at the end of the final stage.

“The tires were quite tired so it was important to get here without any mistakes.”

Breen, who had began Saturday in second place, is now 53.4s shy of the lead and just 10.1s ahead of fifth-placed Elfyn Evans as he struggled to preserve his Pirelli rubber.


Photo: Hyundai Motorsport

“It’s so frustrating,” he said.

“We need to bring our top game here and we’re not really bringing it here. I tried to preserve everything, tried to do what I know with my little brain but it’s not easy for sure.”

Evans, who was sixth quickest, felt he “didn’t take enough chances” on the day’s final stage but he kept his nose clean and has a decent 23.3s cushion over sixth place.

The car in sixth belongs to Oliver Solberg, who had been locked in a close fight with reigning World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier, but lost his grip on sixth spot on Saturday’s penultimate stage with a small overshoot.

However the tables turned on Saturday’s final stage as it was Ogier that made a mistake, and with rather more grave consequences.

Ogier ran wide on the day’s penultimate corner which put him off-line for the final left-hander of the stage, and from there he was a passenger. His Toyota Yaris WRC smacked into the snowbank, the nose was sucked round into a spin and he was stuck fast with little chance of escaping the deep, road-side snow.




However Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia did manage to free the Yaris after 20 minutes, and got to the end of the stage against the odds.

Describing the incident, Ogier said: “Just tire wear gone like for everybody, little bit too much sideways, hit the bank and it caught the front.”

Asked how frustrating it was, he surprisingly replied: “It’s not so much, it’s a weekend to forget when you come here first on the road.”

Solberg didn’t suffer the drama of Ogier but did have a moment of his own: “I think I had a good stage but I lost my glasses, so I drove faster as I don’t see it [the danger]! So I drove absolutely maximum.”

Takamoto Katsuta ended the day seventh, 7.6s behind Solberg with 14.9s in hand over M-Sport’s Teemu Suninen.

Esapekka Lappi

Photo: Januus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool

Gus Greensmith had been 10th for the entire day in the other M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC but moved up to ninth courtesy of Ogier’s demise.

That lifted WRC2 leader Esapekka Lappi into 10th place overall in his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, although Lappi’s 100% stage-winning record was broken by Nikolay Gryazin on SS8.

Lappi had been leaning on the snowbanks, and a “light touch” sent him into one and lost him time as he had to reverse out.

Gryazin is third in class, 36s down on Andreas Mikkelsen who, in turn, trails Lappi by 49.8s.

SS8 times

1 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) 12m44.0s
2 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) +12.3s
3 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +13.1s
4 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Hyundai) +15.1s
5 Oliver Solberg/Seb Marshall (Hyundai) +18.7s
6 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +20.1s

Leading positions after SS8

1 Tänak/Järveoja (Hyundai) 1h43m32.1s
2 Rovanperä/Halttunen (Toyota) +24.1s
3 Neuville/Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +25.9s
4 Breen/Nagle (Hyundai) +53.4s
5 Evans/Martin (Toyota) +1m03.5s
6 Solberg/Marshall (Hyundai) +1m26.8s
7 Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt (Toyota) +1m34.4s
8 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (M-Sport Ford) +1m49.3s
9 Gus Greensmith/Elliott Edmondson (M-Sport Ford) +3m01.8s
10 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Volkswagen) +4m48.8s