Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT’s Kalle Rovanpera had a great opening day of his home Arctic Rally Finland in Lapland on Friday as he ended the day in third place overall just 20.4s behind event leader Ott Tanak and speaking following the action he commented saying:
The first stage started really well, but in one junction I made a mistake and I went wide into the snowbank. We almost got away with it but we had to reverse out. In the second stage I could already see in the beginning that the setup we had was not optimal for the conditions in the second pass with a lot of gravel coming through, and I was having a lot of understeer. That was hurting the front tyres, so the end of the stage was really tough. But I’m sure that we can find something with the setup for tomorrow and keep fighting.
Elfyn Evans ended the day in fifth place just ahead of M-Sport’s Teemu Suninen and speaking following the action he said:
“It has not been a bad start for me today. We were running early on the road which is perhaps not the best position to be in, but we had a clean run through the first stage and then I think we had a decent run through the second stage in the dark. The stage evolved a lot between the two passes with a mix of ruts and quite a lot of loose snow, so it was challenging. Today the main target was always to improve our road position for tomorrow, and we’ve managed to do that, so now we want to try and move up the order if we can.”
Sebastien Ogier ended the day in ninth place overall and speaking following the action the championship leader said:
It was tough today, it was not an ideal start for us. I had hoped to be a little bit closer to the lead tonight. I was enjoying the driving but not the stage times. There wasn’t much we could do unfortunately. With colder temperatures it probably would have been better, but we had the first positive temperatures of the year here today and that didn’t help us running first on the road. It meant that the snow was very soft and the cleaning effect was huge, and it wasn’t any easier on the second pass. Tomorrow we have to keep trying and see what’s possible.
Toyota Gazoo Racing Team Principal Jari-Matti Latvala commented on the day’s action saying:
Maybe it wasn’t the start for the rally that we were hoping for today. I think the weather conditions were a maybe little bit against us, because when the temperature is above zero degrees, the snow is quite soft and there’s a lot more grip available if you have wider lines to follow. With our cars being at the front, I think we lost more time in these temperatures than if it had been 10 degrees colder like we might have expected here in the north of Finland. So Seb and Elfyn were losing time because of that, and although Kalle unfortunately hit a snowbank but he had very good speed. Tomorrow is the most important day of the rally, and with new stages I think the time differences can be bigger than usual, so I think we still have a good chance to fight.