Hyundai’s Ott Tänak was a cut above the rest at Arctic Rally Finland where he sealed his first victory of the season and fourteenth of his World Rally Championship career.
Toyota’s young driver, Kalle Rovanperä and Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville completed the podium following a spectacular head-to-head that lasted right up to the checkered flag.
That second place has been enough to prop the local hero from Jyväskylä to the lead of the standings with 39 points, 4 more than Neuville and 8 over his Toyota teammates, Ogier and Evans, tied at 31 points.
Fourth place has gone to Hyundai’s Craig Breen who showcased his excellent driving skills over snow and ice. Elfyn Evans finished one place below following an anonymous performance.
Solberg shines in his World Rally Car debut
Oliver Solberg has been one of the prominent names of the Arctic Rally Finland, fulfilling his calling as a future royal of the WRC. The Swede, who made his debut onboard a Hyundai 2C Competition World Rally Car, has exhibited his talent for everyone to see. The 19-year-old made the delights of rally fans after breaking into the top 5 in several stages and finishing third in SS3 of Arctic Rally Finland .
He could not have wished for a better debut at the top category of the speciality. It is only a matter of (little) time before he leaves the second division of the World Cup (WRC2), where he is gaining some invaluable experience, and makes the leap to the elite. He certainly has the talent and skills to shine at the top of the discipline.
In case anyone doubted his aptitude, he had a chance to demonstrate what he is made of after starring in a battle of equals against the great Sebastien Ogier on Saturday. Solberg not only didn’t shy away from challenging his veteran rival when they were only 3.6 seconds apart, but he stood his ground until the Frenchman was pushed to committing a mistake.
Unfortunately, a few meters before crossing the finish line Solberg spun his car losing 10-12 seconds and the sixth place to a lacklustre Taksuta Takamoto. This small mistake, however, was not enough to cloud a sensational maiden run by the young driver.
Ogier and Evans disappoint
It was not a good day for Ogier who hasn’t been quite comfortable right from the beginning of the Arctic Rally Finland weekend. What a disappointment! The man himself acknowledged his weakness following his nightmare performance on Saturday, when any chance for success he might have treasured, ended up buried in a snowbank.
This was a very significant setback for the until now leader of the standings, almost as much as it was for his partner, Elfyn Evans. The Welshman has only managed a very discreet fifth place, which has downgraded him from second to fourth place in the classification. Worst of all, he has appeared uncharacteristically conservative in his driving at Arctic Rally Finland .
Happiness for almost everyone
All in all, almost everyone had something to celebrate at the conclusion of the Arctic Rally Finland. On one hand, Hyundai has taken first and third place with Tänak and Neuville. The drivers from the Alzenau team have obviously listened to the very stark warning of team principal Andrea Adamo and made up for the fiasco in Montecarlo.
This second victory on board an i20 WRC, after the one achieved in Estonia 2020, should hopefully give Tänak a confidence boost at the controls of the South Korean missile. After five appointments without a victory, the Estonian can now breath a sigh of relief.
Their Toyota rivals, on the other hand, leave the Arctic Circle as leaders of both the driver and team standings (Toyota, 88 points, Hyundai, 77). The Yaris WRCs, however, have been unable to stop the South Korean whirlwind.
Images of Arctic Rally Finland: WRC.