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WRC Finland: Tanak sees off Rovanpera to claim remarkable win

Tanak and co-driver Martin Jarveoja produced among the best drives of these WRC careers to tame a Hyundai i20 N that’s lacking being the very best car in the championship to defeat Rovanpera on home soil by 6.8s after a rigorous duel.

The 2019 world champion assumed the lead on Stage 2 on Friday, and from there the Estonian was on maximum attack delivering a string of blistering stages times to fight a trio of Toyotas competing on the WRC teams home soil.

Esapekka Lappi headed those chasing Tanak closing to within 3.8s of Tanak on Friday night. However, on Saturday, Tanak came under severe pressure from the charging Rovanpera, who opened the roads on Friday.

The Finn rode their own luck sometimes suffering two wide moments while wanting to reel in Tanak. The 21-year-old made the majority of tricky wet conditions to ignite his surge up the leaderboard from fourth to second. Five stage wins helped the Totyota driver near within 8.3s heading into Sundays final four stages.

However, Tanak continued to attack, extending his lead over Rovanpera before sharing a stage win for the next time through the event. Tanak then held his nerve on the remaining two stages to deny the Finn a house victory, while Rovanpera claimed the five bonus points on the powerstage to increase his championship result in 94 points.

The win is Tanaks and Hyundais second of the growing season carrying out a triumph in Sardinia in June. Additionally it is the Estonians third Rally Finland win alongside successes in 2018 and 2019, joining Jari-Matti Latvala (2010, 2014 2015), Sebastien Loeb (2008, 2011, 2012), Juha Kankkunen (1991, 1993, 1999), Simo Lampinen (1963, 1964, 1972), Osmo Kalpala (1954, 1956 1958) as three-time event winners.

Kalle Rovanpera, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Kalle Rovanpera, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Toyota Racing

Lappi were able to somehow secure the ultimate podium spot despite rolling his GR Yaris on the penultimate stage. The Finn ran wide right into a ditch at a left hander which led to his car rolling 3 x, damaging the trunk wing, windscreen and the radiator.

Lappi could to recuperate and lost only 18s maintaining his third position, before visiting a nearby lake to fetch water to try and re-fill and patch up the leaking radiator. This incident followed a freak moment on Saturday that effectively ended his victory hopes whenever a rock cracked his windscreen, which severely restricted visibility.

Toyotas Elfyn Evans brought his GR Yaris home in fourth after struggling to complement the pace of the frontrunners for match of the rally. A-left rear suspension issues put him out from the fight for a podium on Saturday.

Hyundais Thierry Neuville avoided issues but was struggling to discover the confidence to push in his unpredictable i20 N, and ended the rally 2m18.0s adrift in fifth. Toyotas Takamoto Katsuta continued his run of finishing every event in the points in sixth, while Gus Greensmith headed M-Sports charge in seventh.

Pierre-Louis Loubet appeared on course to complete eighth before a power issue struck before the final stage, forcing the Frenchman into retirement.

M-Sport team leader Craig Breen have been between the front runners until Saturday when he ripped the right-rear from his car after hitting a grass bank. The Irishman returned on Sunday.

Stablemates Adrien Fourmaux and Rally1 debutant Jari Huttunen both reached the final albeit outside the top 10. Fourmaux lost ground after hitting as rock on Friday before an electrical steering issue cost him additional time.

Huttunen impressed to carry eighth on Friday but a fuel pressure issue dropped him beyond your Top 10. The Finn would continue to complete in 11th position.

Hyundais Oliver Solberg was the only real Rally1 retirement after crashing from the initial corner of Fridays opening stage.

In WRC2, Teemu Suninen took a house victory from compatriot Emil Lindholm by 7.7s.

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