Estonian Ott Tänak scored a hugely impressive win on the fastest round of the World Rally Championship in Finland overnight, as the Toyota team scored a double podium with Jari Matti Latvala finishing third in his Yaris WRC.
Tänak has climbed to third in the driver’s championship after front runners Thierry Neuville and Sebastian Ogier finished well down the order. And Toyota is now within a point of Ford in the manufacturer’s championship.
“It has been a perfect weekend. Everything worked as we wanted,” said Tänak who tasted the victory champagne in Argentina earlier this season.
“We had the perfect preparation and full support from the team. To win in Finland is definitely special,” said Tänak. “It's kind of a home rally for me. To win in front of all this support is incredible.”
It is the second year in a row that Toyota has won its “home” event, as the Toyota Gazoo World Rally Team is based near the central Finland city of Jyvaskyla. Twelve months ago, Esapekka Lappi was successful.
On the first day Tänak had a torrid battle with eventual second placed driver Mads Ostberg, with the lead changing four times, and Tänak only led by a handful of seconds at the end of the day.
But on the second and longest day he cemented his position and went into the final day with an advantage of 39 seconds.
For the first three stages he conserved his tyres and then on the final stage Tänak set the fastest time to claim the five bonus points.
Latvala just missed the runner-up position by 2.8 seconds after chasing Ostberg down over the second half of the event.
“I gave everything today to try and get second place. It was a great fight,” said Latvala. “It really helps with the confidence when you fight as hard as this and you can keep everything together and not make mistakes. To be back on the podium after quite a long time feels really good, and especially to do it here in Finland.”
The Toyota drivers won 18 of the 23 stages during the rally.
RESULT, RALLY FINLAND
1, Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2h35m18.1s;
2, Mads Ostberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroen C3 WRC) +32.7s;
3, Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +35.5s;
4, Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m35.6s;
5, Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2m15.0s;
6, Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2m19.2s.
World driver’s championship points. - 1, Thierry Neuville, 153; 2, Ogier, 132; 3, Tänak , 107; 4, Esapekka Lappi, 70; 5, Dani Sordo, 60.
World manufacturer’s championship points. - 1, Hyundai, 228; 2, Ford, 202; 3, Toyota, 201; 4, Citroen, 153.