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WRC Rally Finland

M-Sport suffers double WRC Rally Finland retirement on stage three

M-Sport suffered a nightmare start to Rally Finland as Ott Tanak and Pierre-Louis Loubet retired from the World Rally Championship event on stage three.

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Tanak had started the day leading the rally after winning Thursday’s night’s Super Special, but an engine issue for the second event in succession proved to be the 2019 world champion’s downfall on Thursday morning.

The Estonian lost the rally lead to Kalle Rovanpera in stage two before heading into stage three, the famous 14.21km Lankamaa test.

However, as Tanak reached the six kilometre mark his Ford Puma began to lose power before eventually coming to a halt, with grey smoke emerging from the bonnet. Tanak was able to continue using EV mode briefly before pulling off onto an access road.

M-Sport has confirmed that Tanak was unable to fix the car and will retire from the day’s action.

The team believes Tanak's car suffered an impact to the bottom of the car which triggered the power loss. 

The issue comes just two weeks after an engine issue before the start of Rally Estonia resulted in Tanak being hit with a five-minute penalty, ending his hopes of challenge for victory, as he could only recover to eighth.

Pierre-Louis Loubet, Nicolas Gilsoul, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Pierre-Louis Loubet, Nicolas Gilsoul, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Photo by: M-Sport

To compound the team’s disappointment, the sister Puma driven by Loubet also hit trouble in the stage.

The Frenchman ran wide at a right hander and clipped a rock resulting in heavy damage to left rear. Loubet managed to guide the Puma to an access road where he awaited a crew to recover the car.

Amid the drama for M-Sport, Rovanpera won stage three to move into a 2.2s rally lead over Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans.

Thierry Neuville led Hyundai’s charge to reach the end of stage three in third overall, five seconds adrift of Rovanpera.

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Team-mate Esapekka Lappi was 1.6s further back in fourth while Takamoto Katsuta held fifth after winning the day’s first stage (Laukaa, 11.78km). The third Hyundai of Teemu Suninen was sixth overall.

Making his return to the WRC, Jari-Matti Latvala completed the first two stages in seventh, 29.0s adrift, driving a fourth Toyota GR Yaris.

WRC2 runners Sami Pajari, Jari Huttunen and Emil Lindholm rounded out the top 10 with seven more stages to run today.

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