WRC: Flying Norwegians fastest at Rally Finland shakedown
Rally Finland, the 8th round of the World Rally Championship, started this morning with the shakedown stage. On the 4.62-km long Ruuhimäki road, the fastest drivers were two Norwegians – Citroen’s Mads Østberg and Volkswagen’s Andreas Mikkelsen.
Østberg in DS3 WRC was the fastest by a mere 0.4sec in the last of his four runs to edge out Mikkelsen’s VW Polo R WRC. Robert Kubica was another tenth of a second behind in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
The most important moment of shakedown was the heavy crash of Thierry Neuville‘s Hyundai i20 WRC. The Belgian crashed at a fast left bend near the end of his first pass through the shakedown stage. The car felled a tree and returned to the Jyväskylä service park on a trailer where mechanics immediately started repair work. They hope that car will be prepared for the official start of the Rally Finland this evening.
“It was quite a huge off. I arrived at the corner at about 160kph and went off at about 80kph. There was no escape because the trees were very close to the road. The grip was much less than I expected. I saw the braking lines from the other boys and tried to adapt. But I was too far off line and with the camber of the road I couldn’t take the apex and went straight off. I pulled the handbrake to try to go backwards into the trees. It’s a fifth gear left corner but I came in sixth. Straight away from starting to brake it was full lock with the steering but I couldn’t get round,” said Thierry Neuville.
However, Thierry is no stranger to such situations; he had a similar crash last year at the ADAC Rallye Deutschland, when he crashed at shakedown and despite that went on to win the rally.
Rally Finland will start today at 19.00 (GMT+1) with SS1 Harju (2,27 km). Nine special stages are scheduled for Friday, eight special stages for Saturday and final two stages for Sunday. All the participating drivers will race on 320 kilometres of the special stages.
Rally Finland is the 8th round of the World Rally Championship, but also counts for four supporting categories – WRC 2, WRC 3, Junior WRC and Drive DMack Cup.
Photos: Citroen Racing, Volkswagen Motorsport, wrc.com