SS20: Laukaa 1, 11.75km
Laukaa is a Rally Finland classic. A tWISty opening kilometre leads to a long straight where speeds top 200kph. That’s followed by high-speed crests where aerodynamics keep cars glued to the road. Much of the stage crosses farmland with long open corners, but a series of square bends later on are masked by tall grass on the inside before a fast final kilometre.
SS21: Ruuhimäki 1, 11.12km
A familiar stage, driven in the same format as 12 months ago. The opening 4km were new last year, leading onto more traditional roads and a well-known high-speed left-hander at 9km which tightens. Then it’s flat out over the famous jumps before a new stadium section to the finish, which contains another monster leap.
He was fastest through the opening Laukaa stage in his Toyota Yaris by more than a second from Sébastien Ogier to increase his lead over Esapekka Lappi to 20.0sec. Tänak stretched that to 22.0sec with fourth over the big jumps of the following Ruhhimäki.
“It was a bit of a surprise to see that fastest time. It was very, very clean but nothing special. Everything feels good,” said the Estonian as he moved to within two stages of his second straight Finland win.
Lappi conceded time to third placed Jari-Matti Latvala in both stages as the gap between the pair dropped to 7.3sec.
“I was a bit too tidy in the first stage to be honest, but better to be this way than the way it ended last year. Everyone knows I didn’t do the second stage last year as I crashed in the previous one and it’s always tough to discover new parts,” explained the Citroën C3 pilot.
Latvala felt his braking was untidy in the opener but the Yaris driver rectified that in Ruuhimäki when he was fastest.
Andreas Mikkelsen and Sébastien Ogier continued their titanic battle for fourth. Ogier, feeling much better after yesterday’s sickness, clawed back six-tenths in his C3 in Laukaa as the gearbox of Mikkelsen’s Hyundai i20 briefly stuck in neutral.
The Norwegian regained seventh-tenths in Ruhhimäki to leave the gap at 1.7sec. Craig Breen was distanced by the duelling pair and was a further 13.7sec back.
Gus Greensmith’s weekend ended prematurely when the Briton understeered his Ford Fiesta off the road under braking for a left corner in Ruuhimäki, into a tree and out of ninth place.