WRC – MEEKE FLYING TOWARDS VICTORY | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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WRC – MEEKE FLYING TOWARDS VICTORY

30.07.16
Four stages and 34 competitive kilometres stand between Kris Meeke and a momentous victory on Rally Finland, one of the most specialised events on the FIA World Rally Championship calendar.
FIA, Motorsport, Mobility, Road Safety, F1, WRC, WEC, WTCC, World RX

Britain’s Kris Meeke has powered through another day of Rally Finland to top the leaderboard by 41 seconds over local hero and three-time winner of his home event, Jari-Matti Latvala. The fight for third position has been intense with potentially six drivers in with a chance of the final podium position. Craig Breen, in the second DS3 WRC, has however moved ahead in the battle and completes one of his most successful days in the WRC.

Today’s route took in two identical loops of four stages covering 150.48 competitive kilometres and sent the crews south towards Jämsä for a mix of new and traditional stages, including the legendary Ouninpohja which opened the day. Here, Meeke reigned supreme and was an incredible 13.4 seconds quicker than any of his rivals, immediately extending his advantage over Latvala. Another fastest time before the mid-leg service rounded off a great morning for Meeke and, this afternoon, two more stage wins consolidated his lead as he heads towards a maiden Rally Finland win and potentially the most momentous WRC victory of his career.

Latvala has run without problems and has just over a minute in hand to third-placed Breen. Despite his knowledge and experience of his home roads, he too has been challenged by some of the stages, including the new Saalahti test, and the Finn looks set to have to settle for second, such is the pace of Meeke. Breen is ‘living the dream’ in the DS3 WRC and enjoying every moment battling for position on one of the most specialised events in the Championship. Embroiled in a massive fight to maintain the position, he has been cautious in some places but his confidence in the car has enabled him to power from fifth last night to third this evening. There is no respite, however, with a charging Ott Tanak on his heels. The Estonian has struggled with problems during the event and every time he has powered back, he has been struck by another issue. Undeterred, he is nevertheless back in the mix and just 11.5 seconds adrift of Breen in the lead Fiesta RS WRC. Behind Tanak, the fight is even closer with Thierry Neuville, Hayden Paddon and Mads Østberg split by a handful of seconds between fifth and seventh overall. Neuville struggled to get the feeling this morning but has otherwise run well and without problems, while team-mate Paddon was at a loss to understand his lack of pace this afternoon. Andreas Mikkelsen, eighth, ended up running first on the road after team-mate and reigning World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier dropped back with brake problems. As a consequence he has struggled with the road cleaning and has fallen from fourth last night. Leading retirements of the day include Lorenzo Bertelli and Eric Camilli, both of whom went off but escaped serious injury.

Esapekka Lappi, ninth overall, heads the FIA WRC 2 Championship category ahead of fellow countryman Teemu Suninen, while young Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby continues to fight with Simone Tempestini in the Junior WRC Championship.

Rally Finland – Unofficial Classification after Section 5

  1.  Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle

DS3 WRC

2hr 22min 00.8sec

2.   Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila

Volkswagen Polo R WRC

2hr 22min 41.8sec

3.   Craig Breen/Scott Martin

DS3 WRC

2hr 23min 43.8sec

4.   Ott Tanak/Raigo Molder

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

2hr 23min 55.3sec

5.   Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul

Hyundai i20 WRC

2hr 24min 01.7sec

6.   Hayden Paddon/John Kennard

Hyundai i20 WRC

2hr 24min 04.4sec

7.   Mads Østberg/Ola Fløene

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

2hr 24min 06.8sec

8.   Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger

Volkswagen Polo R WRC

2hr 24min 24.8sec

9.   Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm

Skoda Fabia R5

2hr 26min 24.4sec

10. Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula

Skoda Fabia R5

2hr 27min 11.3sec