However, it was Lappi who delivered the highlight of the day when he won the legendary “Ouninpohja” stage, beating championship leader Elfyn Evans (GB, Ford) by five seconds. “That was simply cool,” said Lappi. “A fantastic stage, wonderful! We really went for it and just enjoyed it. We didn’t have any problems, the FABIA R5 is running like clockwork. Now we want to keep our good rhythm and clinch victory on Sunday of course.”
The high average speed that the WRC 2 teams reached on Saturday on the gravel tracks to the south-west of the university city of Jyväskylä impressed Tidemand. “It’s crazy. In some places you feel like you are going as fast as if you were competing in a circuit race – but not on asphalt tracks with run-off areas, rather on gravel tracks in the forest. You need to find the right mix of risk and reason. I hope that I manage it again on Sunday to be able to oust Suninen from second place. It will be far from easy, but we will go at full throttle,” said Tidemand.
The longest day of the Rally Finland in terms of classified kilometres had a delayed start for the WRC 2 field. The first pass of “Ouninpohja” on Saturday morning was abandoned after one of the World Rally Cars was involved in an accident. And things could get turbulent again on Sunday: Light rain showers are forecast for the area to the south of Jyväskylä, where the closing special stages “Lempää” and “Oittila” will each be driven twice.
Classifications Rally Finland (WRC 2) after 20 of 24 stages:
1. Lappi/Ferm (FIN/FIN) ŠKODA FABIA R5 2h 26m 24.4s
2. Suninen/Markkula (FIN/FIN) ŠKODA FABIA R5 + 46.9s
3. Tidemand/Andersson (S/S) ŠKODA FABIA R5 + 58.0s
4. Evans/Parry (GB/GB) Ford Fiesta R5 + 2m 8.4s
5. Kruuda/Jarveoja (EST/EST) Ford Fiesta R5 + 3m 30.2s
The number of the day: 122.8
It’s not without reason that the Rally Finland is also referred to as the “Grand Prix of Finland”. After all, eight of the ten fastest WRC rallies of all time have been held in the forests around Jyväskylä. And this year the speed at which the rally drivers are tearing through the special stages is higher than anywhere else on the WRC calendar. Since the ultra-fast stages “Ouninpohja” and “Päijälä” were on Saturday’s agenda, the average speed of leaders Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm increased to an impressive 122.8 km/h. By way of comparison: At the Rally Portugal in May, the average speed of winners Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson was 88 km/h.