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    Cool WRC Finland 2-4 Aug talk/results spoiler**

    --------------------

    Next: Round 8 WRC Finland 02 - 04 Aug 12




    Sisu is a Finnish word that loosely translates into English as ‘having guts’. On the flat-out, tree-lined straights, endless yumps and blind crests of Neste Oil Rally Finland, drivers will need plenty of ‘sisu’ if they are to stand a chance of winning one of the World Rally Championship’s most famous events.

    Known affectionately as the Finnish Grand Prix, the rally turns the student city of Jyvaskyla into a motorsport Mecca on the first weekend of August as fans converge in their tens of thousands to savour the dramatic action on the compacted gravel stages and lap up the party atmosphere.

    Few non-Finns have triumphed on the event due to the specialist nature of the stages with their endless series of twists, corners and jumps. Marcus Gronholm, a seven-time Neste Oil Rally Finland winner, famously said: “You need courage but the pacenotes have to be perfect because they tell you where to place the car on the road before taking off flat-out over a blind crest. You have to have maximum trust and faith in your co-driver.”

    Official Website: nesteoilrallyfinland.fi/en/

    Listen Live: worldrallyradio.com/

    Watch Speed TV(USA): speedtv.com//filter/program/wrc

    Complete event timetable for Rally Finland - the eighth round out of 13 in the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship.

    Event Timetable

    Wednesday 1 August: Qualifying


    QS Ruuhimäki 4.62km 19.30


    Thursday 2 August: Day 1: Jyväskylä

    Start Paviljonki 13.30
    SS1 Koukunmaa 13.68km 17.23
    SS2 SSS Jokimaa 2.00km 19.00
    SS3 Mynnilä 14.22km 20.50
    Serv A Paviljonki (flexi 45 mins) 22.35
    Finish Paviljonki 23.20

    Total 29.90km


    Friday 3 August: Day 2: Jyväskylä

    Serv B Paviljonki (15 mins) 06.30
    SS4 Urria 12.75km 07.42
    SS5 Jukojärvi 22.29km 08.39
    Serv C Paviljonki (30 mins) 10.05
    SS6 Mökkiperä 1 11.38km 11.28
    SS7 Palsankylä 1 13.92km 12.14
    SS8 Lankamaa 1 23.06km 13.32
    Serv D Paviljonki (30 mins) 14.45
    SS9 Mökkiperä 2 11.38km 16.08
    SS10 Palsankylä 2 13.92km 16.54
    SS11 Lankamaa 2 23.06km 18.12
    SS12 SSS Killeri 2.06km 20.00
    Serv E Paviljonki (flexi 45 mins) 20.30
    Finish Paviljonki 21.15

    Total 133.82km

    Sat 4 August: Day 3: Jyväskylä

    Serv F Paviljonki (15 mins) 07.00
    SS13 Surkee 1 14.95km 07.56
    SS14 Leustu 1 21.94km 08.54
    Serv G Paviljonki (30 mins) 10.07
    SS15 Surkee 2 14.95km 11.18
    SS16 Leustu 2 21.94km 12.16
    Serv H Paviljonki (30 mins) 13.29
    SS17 Ouninpohja 1 33.01km 15.37
    SS18 Ouninpohja 2 33.01km 18.00
    Serv E Paviljonki (10 mins) 20.03
    Finish Paviljonki 21.00

    Total 139.80km
    Rally total 1625.69km (303.52km competitive)


    all times local



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    Sebastien Loeb has earned the right to select his starting position for the opening stages of Neste Oil Rally Finland first after he went fastest on the Qualifying Stage for the FIA World Rally Championship counter this evening.

    Loeb, in a factory Citroen DS3 WRC, completed the 4.26-kilometre Ruuhimaki test in a time of 2m17.470s, 0.555s faster than works Ford pilot and leading Finnish driver Jari-Matti Latvala.

    “It was difficult to read the road at times and you were not sure where the slippery places were,” said Loeb in reference to earlier rain. “But it was okay, no mistakes.”

    Latvala said: “It was a bit soft in places and also a bit rough, I couldn’t have done better than this.”

    Loeb’s Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen was third fastest, 0.806s down on Loeb, with Petter Solberg, in the second factory Fiesta RS WRC, fourth after the Norwegian reported making “one small mistake.” He was 1.219s off Loeb’s pace.

    read more: wrc.com/news/loeb-tops-finland-qualifying/

    ---------------------------

    Loeb plays safe in road order

    Sebastien Loeb will start 10th on the road on the opening day of Neste Oil Rally Finland, round eight of the FIA World Rally Championship, as the leading drivers opted to play safe rather than make any bold choices.

    Loeb, who heads the Citroen Total World Rally Team and holds a comfortable advantage in the WRC drivers’ standings, said uncertainty over the weather had resulted in him opting for what he described as a “safe choice”.

    “It was very difficult to choose,” said the eight-time world champion. “We know if it’s dry it’s better to be behind and if it’s wet it’s better to be in front. We don’t know exactly for the weather so we choose in the middle because we expect some rain in some moments but not always. Finally [my main rivals] are doing nearly all the same and after 10 cars there shouldn’t be a big difference so we should nearly be all equal.”

    Finnish hero Jari-Matti Latvala has opted to start 11th on Thursday’s opening trio of stages in his works Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

    “Normally you would want to be close to the top four but the problem is the stages around Lahti will be very dry and you could easily lose 10 or 15 seconds,” said Latvala. “With the cars now so equal it would be very difficult to make up that time. We did a risky game in New Zealand but that did not work so here we wanted to play safe.”

    read more: wrc.com/news/loeb-plays-safe-in-road-order-selection/

    Rally Finland: Day 1 running order:

    1. Sebastian Lindholm Ford Fiesta RS WRC
    2. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC
    3. Armindo Araujo WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC
    4. Ken Block Monster WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC
    5. Riku Tahko MINI John Cooper Works WRC
    6. Martin Prokop Ford Fiesta RS WRC
    7. Matti Rantanen Ford Fiesta RS WRC
    8. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta RS WRC
    9. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC M
    10. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC M
    11. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC M
    12. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC M
    13. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC M
    14. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC M
    15. Mads Ostberg Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC
    16. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC M
    17. Chris Atkinson Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC M

    .
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    SS1: Loeb fastest on Finland opener



    World championship leader Sebastien Loeb has won the opening stage of Neste Oil Rally Finland.

    The 38-year-old chose to run 10th on the road in his Citroen Total World Rally Team DS3 WRC and was satisfied with the level of grip he experienced. “I’ve done a good stage with no mistakes,” said Loeb. “It’s very important to start with a good rhythm in Finland. I tried to take it quite aggressive and now we will see.”

    Petter Solberg was thrilled with the second fastest time for the Ford World Rally Team, 1.6s down on Loeb. “I’m very happy with that actually,” said Solberg. “I put on different damper settings, it was working well and the car was fantastic.”

    Thierry Neuville shone on his Rally Finland debut with the third quickest run in his Citroen Junior World Rally Team DS3 WRC. Despite clocking a time that was 2.1s off Loeb’s pace, the Belgian said he was “not happy”, adding: “I was braking a lot, too early for each corner and the car was moving too much.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala was 2.2s down on Loeb in his works Fiesta RS WRC. He said: “I wasn’t confident enough in the middle of the stage. It took too long time to get a relaxed feeling.”

    Mads Ostberg impressed as the leading privateer with the fifth best time for the Adapta World Rally Team. “I did some mistakes in the beginning of the stage and couldn’t take the time back again,” said the Norwegian. “But it was okay and I learned more about the grip. I could have gone a lot quicker.”

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss1



    WRC Academy SS1:




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    Breen pays tribute to supporters

    Craig Breen has paid tribute to his legion of followers after completing the opening stage of Neste Oil Rally Finland with new co-driver Paul Nagle.

    Nagle, who like Breen hails from Ireland, has replaced Breen’s former navigator and best friend Gareth Roberts, who lost his life in a crash on a rally in Sicily in mid-June.

    After setting the fourth fastest time in the FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship section of the event, the title contender said: “It’s a sad feeling but I want to thank all the people who have given me the courage to get here. I never thought I’d be in a rally car again, let alone with a time that was not so far off the pace.”

    Breen was 8.9s adrift of category pacesetter Hayden Paddon and felt he could have gone faster had he bled the brakes of his Ford Fiesta S2000 more effectively before the start of the 13.68-kilometre Koukunmaa test. “We had some fade because of this but it wasn’t really a problem,” added Breen.

    Prior to the event, Breen spoke about the emotions he’s experienced in recent weeks: “This day had to come. It will be very emotional, stepping back into the car and not having Gareth with me will be extremely hard but we started this book three years ago, two careers coming together, moulded by friendship into one goal. Now I must see that goal through to fruition. The book stays the same; the goal stays the same it’s just time for a new chapter.”

    click: wrc.com/news/craig breen

    -------------------

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    SS2: Solberg sets superspecial pace

    Petter Solberg has set the pace through the second stage of Neste Oil Rally Finland, round eight of the FIA World Rally Championship. Solberg took 1m32.5s to complete the 2.00-kilometre course through the Jokimaa trotting track in Lahti to trim Sebastien Loeb’s overall lead to 1.5s.

    “I took it careful because there are some dodgy places but it’s a fantastic time and the car was working absolutely perfectly,” said Solberg, who went up against Evgeny Novikov through the two-by-two superspecial.

    Sebastien Loeb was 0.1s slower than Solberg. The factory Citroen driver said: “It was good, I done a good stage and for the moment the start is not bad but we have to continue like this.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala was third fastest for the Ford World Rally Team and has climbed ahead of Thierry Neuville in the overall standings into third position. He said: “I was slightly wide in a couple of places but I’m happy to be only losing 0.1s to Loeb.”

    Citroen driver Mikko Hirvonen, who grew up in Rally Finland’s host city Jyvaskyla, has overtaken Mads Ostberg in the battle for fifth place in the overall classification. He said: “I lost a little bit too much on this stage, I was cautious and not so brave on those long corners but it was okay.”

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss2



    WRC Academy SS2:



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    SS3: Loeb flies in Finland



    Sebastien Loeb has set a stunning pace on stage three of Neste Oil Rally Finland to extend his overall lead of the FIA World Rally Championship counter to 7.3s ahead Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikko Hirvonen, who are tied on time in second place.

    Loeb was 3.2s quicker than rapid Ford privateer Mads Ostberg and 3.5s quicker than Citroen team-mate and top Finn Hirvonen. Latvala was 5.0s adrift for the factory Ford squad, while team-mate Petter Solberg, who was second overall starting the stage, slips to fifth after he failed to match Loeb through the stage due to traction issues.

    Afterwards, Loeb said: “I couldn’t go faster for sure. It was a very, very good stage and I was flat out everywhere. I was really on the limit with no mistakes at all, it was a big push.”

    Ostberg said: “It was a good stage for us. We pushed quite hard at the beginning and we had a few moments in the fast stuff through the forest where it was very slippery so we backed off towards the end.”

    Hirvoen admitted to being on a charge in his DS3 WRC. He said: “I was a couple of times more on the ditch than in the road. I lost some time, we’re a little bit behind but we’ll see tomorrow. I need to stay on the road tomorrow, I’ll be a lot faster that way.”

    Latvala said: “I don’t have an answer at the moment, I thought I was driving well and I thought it was a good stage but I’ve lost five seconds and that’s a lot. There’s no excuse.” Solberg added: “I struggled a little bit with the traction sometimes and it was very tricky in the middle part.”

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss3




    WRC Academy SS3:



    --------------------

    Thursday wrap:

    Sebastien Loeb leads Neste Oil Rally Finland, round eight of the FIA World Rally Championship, following the opening three special stages around Lahti this evening.

    Driving a Citroen Total World Rally Team DS3 WRC, the eight-time world champion holds an advantage of 7.3s ahead of Friday’s action getting underway with the 12.75-kilometre Urria stage at 07:42hrs local time.

    Loeb, who chose to run 10th on the road following Wednesday night’s Qualifying Stage, set the pace through the opening Koukunmaa run to take a lead of 1.6s to the Jokimaa superspecial, which Petter Solberg won in his Ford World Rally Team Fiesta RS WRC to narrow the Frenchman’s advantage to 1.5s.

    But a stunning time by Loeb through stage three, the 14.22-kilometre Mynnila test, has enabled the world championship leader to edge slightly clear in his bid for a third victory in Finland.

    “I feel well in the car at the moment and I tried really hard,” said Loeb. “I know I can fight for the victory, the feeling was good and I took the opportunity to go flat out. But there are a lot of Finnish drivers wanting the victory as well so I will try my best.”

    Finns Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikko Hirvonen are tied on time in second and third places respectively with Solberg slipping to sixth after he struggled through stage three with traction issues. Rising stars Mads Ostberg, who was second fastest through stage three, and Thierry Neuville - third quickest on stage one - are fourth and fifth respectively heading to the overnight halt in Jyvaskyla.

    Australian Chris Atkinson, driving a DS3 WRC for the first time, was satisfied with his pace on his first start in Finland since 2008 and only his second appearance of the 2012 season. He is seventh overall ahead of Russian Evgeny Novikov and Estonia’s Ott Tanak. Meanwhile, Jari Ketomaa said he struggled for rear-end grip on high-speed corners, which resulted in a few brief off-road moments. The Finn completes the top 10 for the Autotek Motorsport squad.

    read more: wrc.com/news/thursday-wrap

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    Friday
    SS4: Hirvonen edges ahead of Latvala




    Mikko Hirvonen has moved 0.6s clear of Jari-Matti Latvala in the battle for second place on Neste Oil Rally Finland.

    Hirvonen, in a Citroen Total World Rally Team DS3 WRC, was second fastest through Friday’s opening run, 0.3s slower than stage winner and team-mate Sebastien Loeb, whose overall advantage has grown to 7.6s.

    Despite his stage victory, Loeb wasn’t entirely happy with his driving. He said: “I made a few mistakes, sometimes I was a bit too slow, sometimes a bit too fast. It was difficult to find exactly the right rhythm but finally it’s okay.”

    Latvala, who was third quickest, 0.9s down on Loeb, said: “I’m a lot closer but it should not be this way, I should be ahead of him. I was pushing really hard, maybe I was too much sideways at times so I will try to get a little bit cleaner.”

    Petter Solberg has climbed from sixth to fourth after demoting Mads Ostberg and Thierry Neuville.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss4



    WRC Academy SS4:



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    SS5: Hirvonen fastest

    Mikko Hirvonen has claimed his first fastest stage time on this year’s Neste Oil Rally Finland and declared the “battle is on” in the battle for victory on round eight of the FIA World Rally Championship.

    Hirvonen was 3.2s faster than Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb to cut the eight time world champion’s overall lead to 4.4s.

    “I did a small change with the set-up and the rest is just between your ears,” said Hirvonen. “It was a good stage, the battle is on now.”

    Loeb added: “I was pushing hard but Mikko is a bit faster. He was not 100 per cent confident yesterday but now the game is on. The stages are more narrow than yesterday and it’s not easy but at this moment I’m happy with my speed and the car.”

    Petter Solberg has demoted Ford team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala to fourth place after Latvala went 4.2s slower than Loeb in his works Fiesta. “I’m really trying, really pushing but I can’t match his time,” said Latvala. “He’s incredible quick. I tried to be cleaner but that’s not helping either.”

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss5



    WRC Academy SS5:




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    SS6: Hirvonen closes on Loeb

    Mikko Hirvonen has edged closer to Sebastien Loeb in the battle for victory on Neste Oil Rally Finland after claiming his second stage win on the high-speed gravel event.

    Hirvonen was 0.6s faster than his Citroen team-mate through stage six, Mokkipera, and now trails the double Finland winner by 3.8s on round eight of the FIA World Rally Championship. “I was one second down at one point but I managed to catch him,” said Hirvonen. “I’m happy with the car.”

    Loeb, meanwhile, reported making a “few little mistakes” in his Citroen, suggesting he had pushed too hard in some corners.

    Jari-Matti Latvala has moved ahead of factory Ford colleague Petter Solberg into third place. The Finn, winner of his home event in 2010, reported an increase in confidence following changes to his Fiesta RS WRC’s damper settings in service. However, he said the car was too low to the ground and he was 2.4s slower than Hirvonen as a result. Solberg, meanwhile, said he struggled to find a good rhythm at the stage start.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss6



    WRC Academy SS6:



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    SS7: Loeb hits back



    Sebastien Loeb has hit back in the battle for first place on Neste Oil Rally Finland, round eight of the FIA World Rally Championship.

    Loeb led Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen by 3.8s following stage six of the high-speed gravel rally but is now 6.2s clear following another impressive performance at the wheel of his DS3 WRC.

    “I tried hard again, which is what I do since the start, but Mikko has found a really fast rhythm today,” said Loeb, who trailed Hirvonen on the previous two stages. “But I’m happy with my driving, it was a bit better on this stage.”

    Hirvonen’s bid to catch team-mate Loeb suffered a setback when he dropped 2.4s to Loeb. He said: “The stage didn’t go so well. The stage was twisty and rocky but we try again on the next one.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala said he couldn’t pinpoint why he continues to lose time to leader Loeb in his factory Ford Fiesta RS WRC. “I’m really trying, trying to do my best but it’s not happening, I don’t know why,” said Latvala, who was 1.9s slower than Loeb but 0.3s quicker than team-mate Petter Solberg.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss7



    WRC Academy SS7:



    ------------------------

    SS8: Loeb reveals technical glitch



    Mikko Hirvonen is five seconds adrift of Sebastien Loeb as the battle for top honours on Neste Oil Rally Finland continues.

    Finnish hero Hirvonen, in a Citroen DS3 WRC, was 1.5s quicker than his French team-mate, the winner of the FIA World Rally Championship title for the last eight seasons, to narrow the gap between the top two drivers.

    “I was sure I had a puncture,” said Hirvonen. “There were lots of rocks on the road and I was going wide in places and hit a big rock on one corner. We’re just going flat out.”

    Loeb, meanwhile, revealed he has been struggling with a mechanical issue since the end of the previous stage: “I have a problem with the rear diff since the stage before,” he said. “It overheated and we lost the oil. It was handling really strange and we were sliding everywhere. We lose a bit of time and I wasn’t sure if we could complete the stage at one point.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala was the leading factory Ford driver, 0.2s down on Hirvonen. “It’s the first time we are not losing anymore, we have a chance to keep the fight on. You never know what is happening in this rally so we have to keep pushing.”

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss8



    WRC Academy SS8:




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    SS9: Hirvonen narrows Loeb's lead

    Mikko Hirvonen has trimmed Sebastien Loeb’s overall advantage to 3.3s in the chase for Neste Oil Rally Finland glory by going 1.7s faster than the eight-time winner of the FIA World Rally Championship with the quickest run through the repeat of the Mokkipera test.

    “It was important to take time out of him because on the next one he always takes time out of me in the narrow section,” said Hirvonen. “I’m getting more into it but I had to push hard but there were no problems.”

    With a replacement rear differential fitted to his Citroen DS3 WRC in service in Jyvaskyla, Loeb said: “The car is good but the stage starts to be rough and there is a lot of big stones in the rough. It’s easy to have a puncture or to break something.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala, in a Ford World Rally Team Fiesta RS WRC, was 3.5s slower than Loeb. He said: “I’m happy with the car, I have to say but the road was in a quite bad condition and in a couple of places I went wide. I could have driven better, I attacked too hard in some places.”

    Petter Solberg said he made a mistake in a rough section in his Fiesta. Matti Rantanen admitted to making a few mistakes and remains behind Jari Ketomaa in the overall standings, 3.7s adrift of his fellow Finn and Fiesta driver. Ketomaa, meanwhile, reported an ECU change in service had transformed the speed of his Autotek entry, which had been dogged throughout the day by a persistent misfire.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss9



    WRC Academy SS9:



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    SS10: Latvala fears Loeb can't be caught



    Jari-Matti Latvala says he doesn’t know how to close the gap to Neste Oil Rally Finland leader Sebastien Loeb in the race for top honours on the FIA World Rally Championship counter.

    Citroen driver Loeb bagged his fifth stage victory on the high-speed gravel round to maintain his advantage out front and move 17.9s clear of Ford pilot Latvala.

    “It’s an amazing drive at the moment,” said Latvala. “I am happy with my car, playing a bit with the set-up but I don’t have any way to pull more time. To get closer [to Loeb] feels very difficult and I don’t know where to take that time. Citroen are very strong at the moment.”

    Loeb said: “The stages are quite rough in some places. You can be surprised in some big ruts when you are turning for the corners. I had to be careful.”

    Mikko Hirvonen was 0.4s slower than Loeb through the test. He is 3.7s behind his Citroen team-mate and plans to continue pushing over today’s two remaining stages. “Every second counts now,” said the Finnish driver.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss10



    WRC Academy SS10:



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    SS11: Solberg fastest



    Petter Solberg overcame light rain and a gear lever issue to set the pace through Friday’s penultimate stage for the Ford World Rally Team.

    Solberg, in a Fiesta RS WRC, was 0.1s quicker than leading Finn Mikko Hirvonen, who has closed the gap to leader and Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb.

    “I am very happy, the car worked very well but I had a problem with the gear lever and I really struggled in the last five or six kilometres,” said Solberg. “I could have gone even faster without this. It’s a second stage win and I had to go so absolutely wild to do it but it worked.”

    Hirvonen is now 3.0s behind Loeb who reported making a small mistake in his DS3 WRC. “I was really pushing hard and I missed a little bit a junction. Except for this mistake I couldn’t go any faster.”

    Mads Ostberg completed the stage with a rear brake issue on his Adapta Fiesta although his fifth place was not threatened when rival Thierry Neuville rolled at low speed approximately 19 kilometres into the stage after failing to hear a pace note.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss11



    WRC Academy SS11:



    ---------------------

    SS12: Loeb wins Killeri superspecial



    Sebastien Loeb has extended his lead of Neste Oil Rally Finland to five seconds by wining the day-closing superspecial at the Killeri trotting track in out of town Jyvaskyla.

    Loeb, in a works Citroen, took 1m22.8s to complete the 2.06-kilometre two-by-two course, 0.3s faster than factory Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala, who felt he could have claimed the stage win had he not made a small mistake.

    “There was one place where I went a little bit wide and that’s why Loeb won it,” said Latvala following his head-to-head with the eight-time world champion. “I wanted to beat him but I couldn’t. I am closer than ever in a superspecial, which is a positive.”

    Petter Solberg was third quickest, 0.5s down on Loeb with Evgeny Novikov fourth, Ott Tanak fifth and Mikko Hirvonen sixth. Hirvonen started the stage three seconds adrift of Citroen team-mate Loeb in the battle for first place but a slower run means he drops back in the overall classification.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss12



    WRC Academy SS12:




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  11. #10

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    Friday wrap:

    Five seconds will separate Citroen chargers Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen in the race for success on Neste Oil Rally Finland, round eight of the FIA World Rally Championship, which concludes with six ultra-fast gravel stages on Saturday.

    Loeb and Hirvonen have fought a close battle for glory throughout day two in their factory DS3 WRCs. While Loeb has remained in front, a rear differential glitch and a rare driving error on today’s penultimate test have helped to ensure the flying Hirvonen remains firmly in the fight for victory.

    “It’s a long final day tomorrow and we will see what we can do,” said Loeb. “The gap is so small, it will be a hard fight but we have to do it correctly.”

    Hirvonen, chasing his first win for Citroen and his second on home soil, said: “I was pushing really hard and so was Sebastien. Little by little I have taken time out of him. It will be a big fight tomorrow but I am confident.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala is the top Ford driver in third overall although the Finn admits his pace has not been fast enough to threaten the top two crews. “I did only one mistake but the time is not there and there is nothing else I can do,” said Latvala. “Anything can happen but I can’t take any more speed anywhere.”

    Petter Solberg, in the second works Ford is fourth after going fastest on the penultimate test. His fellow Norwegian Mads Ostberg is a strong fifth despite set-up issues in the morning and brake issues in the afternoon. Ostberg had been in a close battle with Thierry Neuville until the Citroen Junior driver failed to hear a pace note on the penultimate stage and roll into a retirement.

    Read more:wrc.com/news/friday-wrap

    --------------------

    Friday SWRC wrap:



    Craig Breen is firmly in contention for an emotional victory in the FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship on Neste Oil Rally Finland after he completed Friday's final stage with a 3.7s lead over P-G Andersson.

    Breen, in a Ford Fiesta S2000, is starting his first SWRC event since the death of his former co-driver and friend Gareth Roberts in a crash on a non-championship rally in Sicily in June.

    With six stages remaining on Saturday, Breen and PROTON factory pilot Andersson are comfortably clear of third-placed Juha Salo with Yazeed Al-Rajhi fourth and Maciej Oleksowicz fifth.

    Esapekka Lappi will restart under Rally 2 rules in sixth. The rising Finnish star, competing for SWRC points as a wildcard entrant, had led by almost one minute when he hit trouble on stage 10 and retired with damaged suspension having begun to lose time when his Fiesta’s powersteering failed.

    “I’m happy to finish the day in this position,” said Breen. “Leading into the final day is a massive thing for me.”

    Andersson added: “Everything has been running well and we played a safe game this afternoon. It’s stupid not to because we have to think about the championship.”

    Read more: wrc.com/news/friday-swrc-wrap

    --------------------

    Friday WRC Academy wrap:



    Elfyn Evans is more than one minute clear in the FIA WRC Academy as his strategy paid dividends on Neste Oil Rally Finland today.

    The young Briton, winner of the previous round in Greece in late May, set out with the aim of blending his natural speed with avoiding making mistakes on the high-speed gravel stages around host city Jyvaskyla.

    “At the minute everything is okay,” said Evans. “We are trying our best to find the balance between good speed and looking after the car. I think it’s going okay.”

    Evans was in a close scrap with fellow Briton Alastair Fisher when Fisher, the title leader, picked up a front-right puncture on stage five. But after stopping to change the tyre, a throttle problem prevented him from going any further. He plans to return under Rally 2 rules on Saturday but will restart in a distant 10th place.

    “We went over a crest on a left-hander and there was a rock sitting in the road about five kilometres in,” said Fisher. “Then there was a problem with the throttle, there was no response and we couldn’t carry on.”

    In the battle for second place, Sweden’s Pontus Tidemand holds the advantage on his Rally Finland debut ahead of Australian Brendan Reeves and Dutch driver Timo van der Marel. Jose Suarez, from Spain, is fifth with Briton John MacCrone sixth. American Chris Duplessis and Portugal’s Joao Silva complete the top eight with South Africa’s Ashley Haigh-Smith ninth after brake woes.

    click: wrc.com/news/friday-wrc-academy-wrap


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  12. #11

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    Saturday
    SS13: Hirvonen loses ground


    Mikko Hirvonen has lost ground in his efforts to catch Sebastien Loeb for victory on Neste Oil Rally Finland after he struck a rock with the rear-left of his Citroen DS3 WRC. “I went wide into a rock early in the stage and did the whole stage with an empty tyre,” said the Finn.

    Loeb was 3.9s faster than Hirvonen after winning the stage to increase his overall lead to 8.9s. “I’m a little surprised, I didn’t think my advantage would be so good at the end of the stage,” said the FIA World Rally Championship leader. “I’m happy with my start to the day but Mikko is able to react so it’s not finished.”

    Ford World Rally Team driver Jari-Matti Latvala was second quickest, 1.2s down on Loeb. He said: “I’m happy and relaxed this morning, the car feels good, everything is working and I like this stage. I try to push the Citroens into a mistake.”

    Team-mate Petter Solberg said his factory Fiesta was “far too low” and added that he would be adjusting the set-up ahead of the next stage. He was 11.0s slower than Latvala.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss13



    WRC Academy SS13:



    ---------------------

    SS14: Hirvonen fastest


    (Martin Prokop has been using Neste Oil Rally Finland to pay tribute to co-driver Bohuslav Ceplecha, who was killed in an accident on Rally Bohemia in Czech Republic last month.)

    Mikko Hirvonen has vowed to “push on” in his efforts to win Neste Oil Rally Finland for a second time and take his first victory in this year’s FIA World Rally Championship.

    The Finnish hero was 1.5s quicker than Citroen team-mate and leader Sebastien Loeb to narrow the Frenchman’s advantage to 7.4s. “I was so annoyed about the first stage in the morning after hitting a tree and sliding in a couple of corners, which knocked my confidence,” said Hirvonen. “We have to see how Sebastien responds but I will push on and try to win this one. I’m going to go for it.”

    Loeb, meanwhile, said he thought he had picked up a rear-left puncture in the middle of the stage after experiencing a handling imbalance.

    While Hirvonen could celebrate his first stage win of the day, there was despair for Ken Block who crashed his Monster World Rally Team Fiesta following a jump. The American Gymkhana star had been on course for a top 10 finish on his Finland debut when the accident happened. Both Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino were uninjured although their car suffered front suspension damage in the incident.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss14



    WRC Academy SS14:



    --------------------

    SS15: Loeb vows to carry on pushing

    Sebastien Loeb insists he won’t be backing off despite extending his lead on Neste Oil Rally Finland to 9.3s with three stages remaining.

    Loeb was 1.9s quicker than Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen who again lost time on the Surkee stage. The FIA World Rally Championship leader said: “I took some time from Mikko and that’s the goal. But it’s impossible to relax. A nine-second lead in Finland with two long stages in Ouninpohja to come means I have to continue to push. We know Mikko will not give up.”

    Hirvonen said: “I’ve lost a little bit but hopefully not too much. There are three stages left so I’m going to fight like hell.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala was the fastest Ford driver in second place, 0.5s down on Loeb. Factory Ford team-mate Petter Solberg was fourth quickest.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss15



    WRC Academy SS15:




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  13. #12

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    SS16: Ostberg hits trouble



    Mads Ostberg has dropped behind Ott Tanak into sixth place on Neste Oil Rally Finland after a suspected mechanical failure slowed his Adapta World Rally Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

    Norwegian Ostberg was more than 40s ahead of his Estonian rival starting the repeat of the Leustu stage when he began to lose time.

    “I think it’s a broken propshaft or something,” said the Vodafone Rally de Portugal winner. “On a straight we had a really bad noise from the propshaft or rear diff I don’t know. I only have front-wheel drive. It just happened on a fast section on a wide road. Now I have to push.”

    In the battle for victory Mikko Hirvonen has slipped further behind Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb, albeit by one-tenth of a second after Loeb shared the fastest stage time with Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala as 0.3s covered the top four drivers.

    Evgeny Novikov said his co-driver Denis Giraudet’s injured back was forcing him to reduce his pace over the numerous jumps that litter the route.

    Armindo Araujo has dropped down the order after he went off into a ditch on a long corner, nudged a tree and bent a suspension arm on his MINI John Cooper Works WRC. The Portuguese driver’s delay means Finn Riku Tahko is now the leading MINI runner.

    Craig Breen has moved back ahead of P-G Andersson in the battle for Super 2000 World Rally Championship honours. The gap is now 13.3s after Andersson reported a suspected broken driveshaft.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss16



    WRC Academy SS16:



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  14. #13

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    SS17: Hirvonen wins first Ouninpohja stage



    Mikko Hirvonen has taken 2.2s out of Sebastien Loeb to narrow the world champion’s lead on Neste Oil Rally Finland to 7.2s starting the final stage of the FIA World Rally Championship qualifier.

    Hirvonen, in a Citroen Total World Rally Team DS3 WRC, took 15m26.9s to complete the legendary 33.01-kilometre stage to keep alive the fight for victory.

    Jari-Matti Latvala was 7.6s quicker than factory Ford team-mate Petter Solberg who admitted to saving his tyres for the event-closing Power Stage. Latvala said he flew too far over one jump and also briefly drove into a ditch in his Fiesta RS WRC.

    Mads Ostberg has moved back ahead of Ott Tanak in the chase for fifth following his delay on stage 16, despite a soft set-up causing a lack of precision. Tanak, in a similar Fiesta, admitted he had to make several changes to his pace notes during the stage.

    Matti Rantanen said he had a “really close call” during a big moment near the stage start, while close rival Jari Ketomaa said he struggled for grip in his similar Fiesta.

    ....P-G Andersson has moved into the lead of the Super 2000 World Rally Championship after Craig Breen crashed out on a fast left-hand bend. Both Breen and co-driver Paul Nagle were uninjured.
    (what a shame for Craig as he has been really impressive throughout the event)

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss17



    WRC Academy SS17:



    Evans wins



    Elfyn Evans has won the FIA WRC Academy section of Neste Oil Rally Finland, which finished following the first run of the legendary 33.01-kilometre Ouninpohja stage this afternoon.

    The Briton, co-driven by Phil Pugh, fought off the challenge of nine other rising star rally drivers, each armed with an identical M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2 fitted with Pirelli control tyres, to claim his second category win in 2012, a result that puts him at the top of the drivers’ standings after three events.

    click: wrc.com/news/evans-wins-wrc-academy/

    ...and Congratulations to Chris Duplessis & Alex Kihurani on 6th place


    --------------------

    SS18 Power Stage Ouninpohja 2



    Mikko Hirvonen has won Neste Oil Rally Finland’s Power Stage to secure three FIA World Rally Championship bonus points in his Citroen DS3 WRC.

    Petter Solberg, in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, was second fastest, 0.6s behind Hirvonen to clinch two additional points with Sebastien Loeb claiming the final point and the overall rally victory with the third best run in his Citroen. Loeb’s winning margin was a mere 6.1s.

    Hirvonen’s stage time of 15m17.3s eclipsed Solberg’s previous record of 15m18.4s, which the Norwegian established back in 2005. However, Solberg felt he could have gone faster had it not been for a handful of mistakes.

    “It was cleaning a little behind and I made a small mistake at the start, one in the middle and braked far too early for one corner close to the finish,” said Solberg. “I tried but it was not enough.”

    Latvala said he struggled under braking nearing the stage finish in his Fiesta after he started the stage with one new tyre. He was fourth quickest ahead of Mads Ostberg and Ott Tanak.

    Andreas Mikkelsen picked up a puncture near the start of the stage in his Volkswagen Motorsport-run Skoda Fabia and stopped to change the damaged tyre two kilometres from the finish.

    P-G Andersson clinched victory in the Super 2000 World Rally Championship as Finnish wildcard Esapekka Lappi again impressed by setting the fastest time in the category, his sixth SWRC stage best of day three.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss18





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  15. #14

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    Saturday wrap:

    Sebastien Loeb's incredible run success in the FIA World Rally Championship continued today when he won Neste Oil Rally Finland for a third time alongside co-driver Daniel Elena.


    Loeb, whose victory was his 73rd in the world championship and puts him equal with Finnish rallying legend Juha Kankkunen on the list of all-time Rally Finland winners, overcame a stern challenge from Citroen team-mate and local hero Mikko Hirvonen to triumph by 6.1s as the thrilling high-speed gravel event ended with a second pass of the famous Ouninpohja stage this evening.

    “For sure it’s very satisfying to win in Finland,” said Loeb, who extended his lead of the WRC drivers’ standings to 43 points heading to ADAC Rallye Deutschland later this month. “I didn’t come here especially to win, I came for points because it’s very difficult to beat the Finnish drivers. It was a great fight with Mikko, a one-two for Citroen and great for the championship.”

    For Hirvonen, the two seconds he dropped with a sensor glitch on Friday’s final test, coupled with the delay he encountered nudging a tree on stage 13, means his wait for his first WRC win with Citroen continues.

    “Sebastien was just faster and congratulations to him,” said Hirvonen, who gained some consolation by winning the Power Stage to bag three WRC bonus points. “Second position in Finland makes it even worse but if you do a perfect rally it is not enough against Sebastien. You have to do more because he is incredible.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala was the leading Ford finisher in third with Petter Solberg fourth in an identical Fiesta RS WRC. It was a frustrating event for the Blue Oval pair, who had been tipped to challenge for victory but ultimately conceded that they didn’t have the speed to beat their Citroen rivals on this occasion.

    Adapta Fiesta pilot Mads Ostberg fought back from a mechanical failure on the second Leustu stage to reclaim fifth from Ott Tanak on the first run through Ouninpohja. Tanak, from Estonia, drove without error in his M-Sport Fiesta to end a miserable recent run of form in sixth position.

    Read more: wrc.com/news/saturday-wrap


    --------------------

    Saturday WRC Academy wrap:



    Elfyn Evans has won the FIA WRC Academy section of Neste Oil Rally Finland, which finished following the first run of the legendary 33.01-kilometre Ouninpohja stage this afternoon.

    The Briton, co-driven by Phil Pugh, fought off the challenge of nine other rising star rally drivers, each armed with an identical M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2 fitted with Pirelli control tyres, to claim his second category win in 2012, a result that puts him at the top of the drivers’ standings after three events.

    Evans began the final day with an advantage out front of 1m10.1s and admitted to driving with plenty of caution over Saturday’s closing five stages. “It’s a special event and I’m really pleased to have won,” said the 23-year-old. “Today was just about getting through, looking after the car and making no mistakes. It’s fantastic and it’s been another good learning experience.”

    Swede Pontus Tidemand finished second after going fastest in class on all five stages today to reignite his title bid with Brendan Reeves clinching the final podium place as close rival Timo van der Marel went off the road early in the Ouninpohja stage.

    Reeves lost time with a few half spins this morning but moved back ahead of van der Marel when the Dutchman was slowed by an intercom failure. Van der Marel started the stage 3.4s behind Reeves only to hit trouble, leaving Reeves to take third. “It was such a good race the whole time, we had a couple of stage wins and a podium but it sucks that Timo has gone off,” said the Australian.

    Spain’s Jose Suarez survived a couple of off-road moments to finish fourth with Briton John MacCrone fifth and American Chris Duplessis sixth.

    click: wrc.com/saturday-wrc-academy-wrap

    --------------------

    Saturday SWRC wrap:

    P-G Andersson has moved to the top of the Super 2000 World Rally Championship standings with his second victory of the season on Neste Oil Rally Finland today.

    But while Andersson celebrated winning for PROTON Motorsports, there was late anguish for Craig Breen who started the penultimate stage with a lead of 13.3s only to crash heavily on the first Ouninpohja run.

    Despite his Ford Fiesta S2000 rolling several times, Breen and co-driver Paul Nagle were uninjured. However, the retirement was a cruel result for Breen, who was desperate for a confidence lift following the accident that claimed the life of his former co-driver Gareth Roberts earlier in the season.

    Andersson had been firmly in the fight for victory when a driveshaft failure on stage 16 pegged him back and handed the initiative to Breen before the Swede’s fortunes were transformed on the penultimate test.

    “I really wanted to win but when the driveshaft broke I thought it would be difficult to beat him,” said Andersson. “I saw he had crashed but was out of the car and okay. It was a shame for him because he had done a fantastic job this weekend but we really needed this victory because it’s been a long and difficult season since we won in Sweden. The car was running well and although we were not the quickest on the stages we played a clever race and it paid off at the end.”

    click: wrc.com/news/saturday-swrc-wrap


    --------------------

    Next: Round 9 WRC Germany 24-26 Aug




    Based in the historic city of Trier in Germany’s wine-producing Mosel region, ADAC Rallye Deutschland is an asphalt rally like no other with all three days of the event held on different types of sealed surfaces.

    Official Website: adac-rallye-deutschland.de/uk


    ...
    Last edited by Weasel 555; 08-04-2012 at 06:40 PM.
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