Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen had a good start into Neste Rally Finland, ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship 2019. With their ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo, they set the fastest time among the R5 competitors on the short first stage in the streets of Jyväskylä on Thursday evening. The real action started on Friday morning on the fast gravel stages, and Rovanperä had a lot of luck to be still in competition after having slightly damaged the left rear wheel of his FABIA. “We had a big moment at the beginning of the first stage. I misheard a pace note and approached a corner flat out – but it turned out to be a tight one,” he confessed. After some lightning fast counteraction, the young Finn still set the second quickest time among the R5 competitors.
Eerik Pietarinen/Juhana Raitanen, for the second time this season nominated to score points in the WRC 2 Pro category by ŠKODAMotorsport, had less luck. They went off, damaged radiator and front end of their ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo and had to retire. They won’t restart, because the car suffered too much damage. Rovanperä meanwhile had an incident free run over the next stages, but complained about a lack of traction and an oversteering car. Nevertheless, he continued to set fastest times in the category. In the WRC 2 category for private teams, French ŠKODA crew Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais, already twice class winners this season, continued to impress by taking the WRC 2 lead.
During the midday service, the ŠKODA Motorsport engineers and mechanics modified the setup of Kalle Rovanperä’s ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo. So, the young Finn could restart even more confident into the afternoon leg. And it worked well for the local hero. “On the second loop, it is much better. We made big changes to the suspension and now the car behaves as I like it,” commented Kalle Rovanperä and further increased his category lead during the afternoon stages, reaching the day’s finish with a comfortable gap to stablemate Loubet.
The longest day of the rally will be Saturday with eight special stages totalling nearly 133 kilometres. Like last year, Sunday will bring the final decision with four stages. The winners will reach the podium in Jyväskylä around 16h00 local time.
Standings Neste Rally Finland after Day 2 (WRC 2 Pro/WRC 2)
1. Rovanperä/Halttunen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo, 1:07:09.7 h*
2. Loubet/Landais (FRA/FRA), ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo, +31.6 sec.
3. Gryazin/Fedorov (RUS/RUS), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +1:21.2 min.
4. Katsuta/Barrit (JPN/GBR), Ford Fiesta R5 MKII, +1:21.3 min.
5. Huttunen/Linnaketo (FIN/FIN), Hyundai i20 R5, +1:48.6 min.
6. Camilli/Veillas (FRA/FRA), Ford Fiesta R5 MKII, +2:15.1 min.*
*Factory nominated crews eligible to score points in the WRC 2 Pro category
Number of the day: 9
Among the originally 25 entries strong field of R5 cars, ŠKODA factory crew Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen set 9 fastest times on the 11 special stages of days one and two.
The calendar of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2 Pro)
Great Britain 03/10/–06/10/2019