WRC Finland: Ott Tanak wins as Thierry Neuville retains points lead

Ott Tanak completed a dominant Rally Finland victory for Toyota with a calm run to the finish, while Thierry Neuville limited the damage to his World Rally Championship lead

WRC Finland: Ott Tanak wins as Thierry Neuville retains points lead

After a spectacular lead battle with the resurgent Citroen of Mads Ostberg through Friday, Tanak broke away with a crushing string of stage wins on Saturday morning and then protected his advantage to win by 32.7 seconds. He ensured a maximum 30-point score by winning the powerstage too.

Ostberg came under increasing pressure from Tanak's team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala in the second half of the event and looked unlikely to hold second place as he grappled with high tyre wear.

But a strong powerstage run earned second for Ostberg, his first WRC podium since March 2016, by just 2.8s over Latvala.

Title rivals Sebastien Ogier and Neuville had largely miserable weekends.

Ogier made constant set-up changes to try to get the best from the little-tested new aero package on his M-Sport Ford.

He ended up fifth when team-mate Teemu Suninen picked up a deliberate penalty for an early check-in on the final morning, and had also been helped by Elfyn Evans slowing on Friday to give him a position and a better day two running order spot.

Suninen and Evans then finished sixth and seventh behind their team leader.

Neuville struggled with running first on the road on Friday and made life harder for himself by spinning, clipping a tree and sustaining damage.

He finished a very distant ninth but did pick up two points from the powerstage - where Ogier didn't score - so his championship cushion remains 21 points.

With Neuville off the pace and Andreas Mikkelsen only 10th after a Friday crash, Hayden Paddon upheld Hyundai honour with a strong run to fourth.

Craig Breen couldn't join Citroen team-mate Ostberg in the victory battle as a Friday morning puncture limited him to eighth.

Last year's shock Finland winner Esapekka Lappi was also delayed early when his Toyota stalled on the first full-length stage. He recovered to fourth only to crash out on the final morning.

Eerik Pietarinen won WRC2 in 11th overall for Toni Gardemeister's TGS Worldwide team after Saturday damage left the initially dominant Kalle Rovanpera down in fourth.

Rally result

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 2h35m18.1s
2 Mads Ostberg, T.Eriksen Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 32.7s
3 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 35.5s
4 Hayden Paddon, S.Marshall Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 1m35.6s
5 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 2m15.0s
6 Teemu Suninen, M.Markkula M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 2m19.2s
7 Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 2m29.5s
8 Craig Breen, S.Martin Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 3m08.4s
9 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 3m51.8s
10 Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 8m37.4s

Drivers' standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Thierry Neuville 153
2 Sebastien Ogier 132
3 Ott Tanak 107
4 Esapekka Lappi 70
5 Dani Sordo 60
6 Andreas Mikkelsen 57
7 Jari-Matti Latvala 55
8 Elfyn Evans 52
9 Mads Ostberg 48
10 Kris Meeke 43
11 Craig Breen 39
12 Hayden Paddon 34
13 Teemu Suninen 32
14 Sebastien Loeb 15
15 Pontus Tidemand 11
16 Jan Kopecky 9
17 Bryan Bouffier 4
18 Gus Greensmith 2
19 Lukasz Pieniazek 2
20 Pedro Heller 1
21 Yoann Bonato 1
22 Stephane Lefebvre 1

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WRC Finland: Toyota's Ott Tanak closes on win as Lappi crashes out

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Series WRC
Drivers Ott Tanak , Thierry Neuville
Author Matt Beer
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