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Toyota on top at midday on Rally Finland

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2019 Rally Finland - Friday morning

2019 World Rally Championship - Rally Finland - O. Tänak / M. Järveojä

With the first cool and cloudy morning of Rally Finland completed, it was a Toyota one-two-three so far on the team’s home event.

Although he was running first on the road, championship points leader Ott Tänak finished on top after the first five gravel stages.

The Estonian is only 5.4 seconds ahead of his team mate Jari-Matti Latvala, who won more stages than anyone else this morning. The Finn was delayed slightly by a rear-left puncture on SS5, the same issue that affected the third Toyota driver Kris Meeke, who completed the top three at lunchtime, just 0.4 seconds behind Latvala. All the stage wins were shared by Toyota this morning: three to Latvala, plus one each for Meeke and Tänak.

Esapekka Lappi drove back to Jyväskylä for the midday service in fourth place after a fault-free run. This means that the current top four are all former Rally Finland winners.

The leading Hyundai driver is surprise entrant Craig Breen in fifth. The Irishman put in a strong performance on his first WRC appearance this season, despite feeling he had gone too soft on his i20 Coupe WRC’s set-up.

Citroën’s Sébastien Ogier is 3.5 seconds behind Breen in sixth, however he is not entirely clear on the best way to improve the settings on his car for the afternoon’s loop of five more stages.

The reigning champion is ahead of the two Hyundais of Andreas Mikkelsen and Thierry Neuville, with the Norwegian considerably happier than the Belgian, who had taken an early lead after last night’s Super Special stage. Frustrated by his lack of pace, Neuville’s aim was to make some changes to the set-up of his car at service.

Teemu Suninen is the top Ford Fiesta WRC in ninth, despite losing a big piece of his front splitter this morning. The Finn is half a minute ahead of his 10th placed team mate Gus Greensmith, who is on only his second event in a World Rally Car.

Leading the FIA WRC2 Pro category, Finland’s rising rally star Kalle Rovanperä is in 11th overall. But it wasn’t an easy morning for the Škoda Fabia R5 driver, suffering from too much oversteer. Frenchman Pierre-Louis Loubet is just behind him in another Škoda Fabia R5 Evo to lead the FIA WRC 2 class.

The first stage of the day ended in retirement for local hero Erik Pietarinen, who hit a bank and had a high speed spin. Emil Lindholm was also reported as having stopped his Volkswagen Polo R5 in the Moksi stage.

In the FIA Junior WRC, Sweden’s Tom Kristensson leads the Fiesta R2T category by just 17 seconds ahead of his fellow compatriot Dennis Rådström.