World Rally Championship Finland 2015: Latvala wins

World Rally Championship Finland
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'The conditions were ideal. There are no excuses,' said the loser at the finish. Sébastien Ogier, world champion, leader of the table and winner of 5 of the first 7 world championship races, put away his defeat as confidently as his usual victories. In a ludicrous speed hunt, the Frenchman, who was used to success, flew away from the entire field on the wide Finnish gravel roads, only this time one was even faster.

Jari-Matti Latvala, shaken by what was perhaps the worst first half of his season Professional career, shook off the ballast of the past months surprisingly effortlessly and, like last year, gathered unimagined strength before his home game. Unlike in the previous year, when the Finn seemed extremely tense, an astonishingly relaxed Latvala stepped onto the rally stage and didn't let the otherwise dominant team-mate buy the guts off him.

Latvala can defend the lead

Finland has had the coolest and rainiest summer in 30 years, and so the surfaces of the fine slopes were nicely caked and firm, ideal for Ogier who usually sees himself at a disadvantage as the leader of the table because he has to sweep away the loose gravel for his colleagues. The Frenchman was suspected of having diligently performed rain dances during the half-time break of the World Cup, but denied everything: 'I'd rather not do that. When I dance, worse things may come from the sky than water.' Which, however, confirms the suspicion. A hail shower fell in Jyväskylä on Saturday evening.

The decision had already been made. While Ogier followed the top dog Latvala like a shadow on Friday with just 2.6 seconds behind and had even broken Harri Rovanperä's 13-year-old course record on the famous Ouninpohja stage, his teammate slowly pulled away on Saturday. After a shower in Jukojärvi, Ogier smelled the morning air again on Saturday afternoon. But in the middle of the attack, he rumbled into a stone that damaged a rim. 'That was when I knew it was over,' he said at the finish line.

On the final Sunday there were only two stages to complete, and there was a 13.2 second lead over the two rounds of the super-fast Myhinpää circuit not catching up. 'I knew that if I didn't make a mistake, it would be enough,' said Latvala, who won his home rally in Jyväskylä for the third time with a 13.7 second advantagemoved in. 'That means a lot to me. Now I've caught up with Juha Kankkunen,' enthused the statistics fan from Suomi.

Competition is eliminated himself

With his second win of the season, Latvala made history elsewhere. With an average speed of 125.44 km /h, the 2015 edition of the Finland rally was clearly the fastest world championship run of all time. Latvala undercut the previous record set by Sébastien Loeb in Finland in 2012 by 2.55 kilometers per hour. The next 6 rallies behind the new record are all around 122 km /h.

But Ogier also set records: By winning the second round in Myhenpää, the champion secured victory for the seventh time in a row at the final power stage. He even did it with a 135 cut. The regular 3 additional points are one of the reasons why the defending champion is so far ahead in the table that, in theory, he could already become world champion at the upcoming World Cup in Germany. That would also be a record: The fastest title win of all time.

The mutual stumbling of the competition is also helpful for Ogier's effortless march through. Latvala takes second place in the table because Andreas Mikkelsen put the third works Polo upright in the forest after just half a day. The car could not be repaired in a hurry, apart from a slightly damaged self-confidence, the crew remained unharmed.

The field made for plenty of kindling anyway during the speed chase. Hayden Paddon was initially the fastest Hyundai man, as was often the case recently, but on the 30th anniversary of his co-driver John Kennard's service, the New Zealander threw his car so hard into the forest that he bruised his ribs. Fortunately, compatriot Kennard was not far home. He is in a relationship with a Finnish woman and regularly spends the summer in the home of his better half.

Teammate Dani Sordo also sailed into the trees and listlessly rolled to eleventh place. Thierry Neuville was more motivated. He complained about grip problems on his Hyundai i20. In addition, a problem with the fuel supply haunted the car on Friday. The mechanics changed everything from ignition to fuel injectors. In the end it was enough to achieve a remarkable fourth place under these circumstances, but with a sobering almost 4 minutes behind.

In terms of music, there was really only one thing in the fight against the outstanding VW duo: Kris Meeke had one in the test found a very pleasant vote for him. The Citroën driver was the only one who could temporarily break up the top duo and who, apart from Ogier and Latvala, managed at least one best time. But when trying to keep in touch with the front runners despite a ten-second time penalty due to a stamp error by co-driver Paul Nagle, the Irishman flew off and lined up on Sunday17th place.

After all: Team mate Mads Östberg made it onto the podium without mistakes - albeit not as fast - and made peace with the dreaded Ouninpohja test with its over 200 peaks: 'I think I am In love. '

Finns also dominate WRC2 class

The Ford youngsters initially treated their sports equipment a little carelessly . How good the reworked Fiesta of the M-Sport team really is could not be determined after the first morning, because Ott Tänak ruined a shock absorber early on, which cost several minutes on a long day with nine tests without a service break only allowed fifth place.

Elfyn Evans, who had recently amputated a wishbone, got even worse. 'I tried to take a short cut on Finland's biggest rock,' revealed the Welshman with gallows humor. But he was far from giving up. After a winter course, which M-Sport internally dubbed 'Bush Mechanic', he splinted the broken suspension with a wrench and two hose clamps, which he regularly tightened. In this way, despite his cross-eyed rear wheel, he saved himself over a whopping 7 tests, but only finished 12th. Robert Kubica was once again unrewarded. The former Formula 1 star fell out with his Ford on Saturday evening - two corners before the finish of the stage.

The Finnish World Championship round was grateful for the Finn Esapekka Lappi. The WRC2 winner from Poland was inviolable in his home rally in the second division and temporarily drove as fast in the Skoda Fabia R5 as some of his colleagues in stronger World Rally Cars on the way to eighth place overall. The Swede Pontus Tidemand completed the triumph of the Czechs in ninth place with a double victory.

Citroën junior Stéphane Lefebfre suffered a late damper. The young hopes of France, supported by record champion Sébastien Loeb and Red Bull, had initially achieved a good third place in the WRC2 in the DS3 RRC, but the technical inspectors withdrew him from the traffic because of a non-homologated engine control unit during the final examination.

Henri Haapamäki prevented the total triumph of Suomi's sons without need. The young man, completely unknown in Central Europe, made a furious debut in the WRC3. In his front-wheel drive Citroën DS3 R3, he initially fell behind due to technical problems, but then caught up with the leading Quentin Gilbert by giant strides. The juniors went into the last two stages of Sunday with around 22 seconds.

When the Frenchman received a ten-second time penalty for being late, Haapamäki sensed his chance. After all, he was about ten seconds faster than Gilbert on the first run in Myhenpää. If this parforcer ride were repeated, the third World Cup would also be a Finnish affairbecome. But Gilbert braced himself against the defeat and only lost two seconds in the final. In the end, Haapamäki was five tenths short of victory because the Nordmann was a touch too sure of his cause.

In our gallery we once again show you spectacular pictures of the Rally Finland 2015.


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