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WRC - Latvala leads Day 1 in Finland

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2019 Rally Finland - Friday afternoon

2019 WRC - Rally Finland - JM. Latvala / M. Anttilla

Toyota’s Jari-Matti Latvala occupies the top spot on Rally Finland overnight, having won nearly all stages of Friday afternoon’s five-stage loop. He heads his British team-mate Kris Meeke in the runner-up position, only 1.2 second behind.

In third place overall, 1.2 second behind Meeke, Citroën’s Esapekka Lappi regularly set top-three stage times in the afternoon after adjusting the set-up of his C3 WRC to cope with the rougher conditions on the second pass.

At one point, after SS8, three drivers in the top four were tied on identical times, only 0.6 seconds off the lead, and at the end of Day 1, the top six are covered by less than 15 seconds.

First on the road and struggling with the ruts, Tänak put in an impressive performance to finish in fourth place, just 0.2 seconds behind Lappi.

The two Hyundais of Craig Breen and Andreas Mikkelsen are locked in a battle for fifth behind him. Breen, whose bonnet partially opened on a stage in the afternoon, is now only 1.8 seconds ahead of Mikkelsen, who enjoyed another strong run.

Sébastien Ogier, less than two seconds behind them in seventh, struggled with his position as second on the road today. The Frenchman will have a better chance to push tomorrow.

Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville scored the last stage win of the day but the Belgian struggled with his car’s setup in the morning and had a challenging day. He finished Friday in eighth overall, half a minute behind the leader.

M-Sport’s Teemu Suninen is in ninth place, heading his Ford Fiesta WRC team-mate Gus Greensmith, who completed the overall top 10.

Kalle Rovanperä maintained his lead in the FIA WRC2 Pro category and finished in 11th overnight as the first R5 competitor. Just behind him with another Škoda Fabia is FIA WRC 2 leader Pierre-Louis Loubet.

In the FIA Junior WRC standings, Tom Kristensson led throughout the day. Behind him, the runner-up spot was closely fought between Dennis Rådström, Henning Solberg and Jan Solans, the latter eventually emerging victorious from the battle.