Consistently among the frontrunners since the start of Rally Finland, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle are just three stages away from securing another podium finish with the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.
Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson were forced to retire midway through the leg after the roll cage of their DS3 WRC was damaged on landing after a jump.
Mökkiperä, Jukojärvi, Surkee, Himos and Leustu: day three of Rally Finland served up some of the most famous stages of the “1,000 Lakes Rally”.
Never out of the top 3 of the overall standings since the very first stage, Kris Meeke continued to set his own pace, drawing on the experience acquired last year in the DS3 WRC. Focused on his own objectives, he returned to Jyväskylä third overall, almost a minute ahead of his nearest challenger.
As he battled hard to regain fourth position and having moved clear of Mikko Hirvonen, Mads Østberg’s challenge ground to a halt when an impact after landing a jump damaged his car’s roll cage on SS18. Diagnosed at the midday service, the problem forced the Norwegian out of the rally.
In the WRC2, Sébastien Chardonnet and Thibault De la Haye were on course to take second position in the category when they went off on Surkee 1 (SS16). Their retirement from the rally was confirmed in the afternoon.
Martin Koci continued to dominate the Junior WRC in his DS3 R3. After Simone Tempestini went off, Quentin Giordano inherited second position, ahead of Molly Taylor in third.
Three stages and just thirty-six kilometres make up the final day’s schedule at Rally Finland. The cars set off from parc ferme at 8.15am, with the Power Stage televised at 1.08pm and the podium in Jyväskylä due to take place at 3pm.
Kris Meeke: “I am very pleased to be in third place, just thirty seconds behind the leaders after three days’ racing. It’s fantastic! We have managed to maintain really good pace since the start of the rally. Now we have to make sure we get the result. And if anything happens up ahead, we’re ideally placed to take advantage!”
Mads Østberg: ”It’s very disappointing. The start of the rally was pretty difficult but we had managed to find a very good rhythm. We were fighting for fourth place with Andreas Mikkelsen and Mikko Hirvonen and I felt really good on the stages. Unfortunately, an impact damaged the roll cage after landing a jump.”
HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDEDSS14 – Mökkiperä 1 (13.84km) – Rally leader Jari-Matti Latvala extended his advantage by winning the day’s opening stage. Kris Meeke defended his second place, whilst Mads Østberg began the leg with the sixth fastest time.
SS15 – Jukojärvi 1 (21.93km) – Behind Latvala, Ogier grabbed second position, moving ahead of Kris Meeke. Mads Østberg held onto fifth position, extending the gap to Hirvonen by 3.8 seconds.
SS16 – Surkee 1 (14.95km) – Latvala continued to rack up the stage wins. Both Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers consolidated their positions in the top 5. Sébastien Chardonnet went off when he was on course to take second position in the WRC2.
SS17 – Himos 1 (4.45km) – On the Himos ski slope, Ogier cut Latvala’s lead by 0.8 seconds. Kris Meeke had a minor moment and saw Mads Østberg finish ahead of him on the stage.
SS18 – Leustu 1 (10.01km) – The final stage win of the morning went to Jari-Matti Latvala. Fourth-fastest, Mads Østberg made it to the end of the stage. But he was forced to retire at the midday service. Juho Hänninen grabbed eighth place from Elfyn Evans.
SS19 – Mökkiperä 2 (13.84km) – The gap between Latvala and Ogier peaked at the end of this test: 31.1 seconds. Kris Meeke stayed in touch with the leaders. A little further back, Solberg and Evans picked up punctures.
SS20 – Jukojärvi 2 (21.93km) – Hampered by a problem with his brakes, Jari-Matti Latvala began to lose time to Sébastien Ogier and Kris Meeke. The Frenchman made up eleven seconds on this stage alone.
SS21 – Surkee 2 (14.95km) – Latvala lost a further 7.3 seconds to Ogier. Kris Meeke also closed on the leader.
SS22 – Himos 2 (4.45km) – The gap between the top two dipped below the ten-second mark. Kris Meeke remained third overall, ahead of Mikkelsen and Hirvonen.
SS23 – Leustu 2 (10.01km) – Despite his problems, Jari-Matti Latvala ended the day as overall rally leader, 3.4 seconds clear of Sébastien Ogier. Kris Meeke held onto to his third position overall.
STANDINGS AFTER DAY 31. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:40:33.62. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +3.43. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC) +32.44. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +1:20.85. Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:14.46. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:36.67. Juho Hänninen / Tomi Tuominen (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:05.48. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:47.29. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +8:33.110. Henning Solberg / Ilka Minor (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +10:49.8…
Jari-Matti Latvala, 13 (including 1 tied) – Sébastien Ogier, 10 (including 1 tied) – Kris Meeke, 1.
SS1 to SS23: Jari-Matti Latvala