Ott Tänak has won the Rally Finland 2022 and eight round of the World Rally Championship against all odds. The Hyundai driver defeated local hero and favourite Kalle Rovanperä (+6.8 seconds) after a vibrant duel to the final meters.
With his third victory in the Scandinavian round, Tänak has taken his revenge against the young Toyota star who defeated him at his home race in Estonia earlier in the year. The also Finn Esapekka Lappi finished third to complete the double podium of the Japanese team (+1:20:07s).
With this victory, the second of the season and sixteenth of the Kärla driver’s WRC career, Hyundai has relieved some of the pressure it was under after so many rounds without a win. The South Korean team has only managed one win this season in Sardinia.
This has been a soothing success in the face of the overwhelming superiority of their Japanese rivals. And what better way of doing it than defeating them in their own home? Toyota’s headquarters are located in Jyväskylä, the home town of Rovanperä and the service park of the Scandinavian event.
Tänak has demonstrated that he remains the fearsome 2019 champion when it comes to fast, technical and challenging rallies like this one. The Estonian driver has not only taken six stages of the Rally Finland 2022 but has set a pace and consistency unattainable for the rest of competitors. Since the first stage on Friday, he remained in command of the rally, immune to Toyota’s offensives.
As for the current championship leader, this defeat at home´s event, where conquered eight stages, is just a personal disappointment but does not jeopardise his title aspirations.
As a matter of act, Sweden, Croatia, Portugal, Kenya & Estonia winner, has extended his points lead up to 94 with Tänak (104), who moved into second place, and 95 over Neuville (103), third, who finished fifth on Sunday, behind Elfyn Evans (fourth).
Sunday: Everything remains to be decided
On Sunday, both the leading opponents, separated by just 8.4 seconds, starred in a very close battle that lasted right up to the finish line. Tänak sent a rotund message to Rovanperä by winning the first stage (SS19) and extending his lead by 1.9 seconds, to 10.3.
The young Scandinavian, however, responded immediately. Wounded in his pride, he sat the best times in the following two stages (SS20-21), recovering 3.2 and 0.3 seconds, respectively. He came to the last round 10 seconds behind his Estonian rival.
Encouraged by the support of his home fans, the 21-year-old gave everything he had left in those final metres. However, and despite winning an eighth stage and cutting back another 4 seconds with Tänak, he had to kneel before the superiority of his opponent.
Saturday: Rovanperä takes second place after a fabulous offensive
Saturday turned into a vibrant duel between Rovanperä and Tänak. Supported by his local followers, the home hero gave a portentous exhibition and took five of the eight stages of the day.
His efforts took him from fourth to second place and 12.6s closer (he started 21s behind) to Tänak. Although he did not manage to snatch first place, he kept his chances of victory alive going into Sunday with an 8.4s distance.
Friday: Tänak takes the lead
On Friday’s opening stage, and taking advantage of his starting position at the back, Tänak took over the lead from his team-mate and former leader Thierry Neuville. He finished the day in command of the race having taken three scratches, against the four of a brilliant Lappi, 3.8s behind. Rovanperä, for his part, remained in fourth place with, 21s.
Images of Rally Finland 2022: Hyundai Motorsport.