Hyundai Motorsports Ott Tanak continues to lead the Arctic Rally Finland on Saturday after raking up a further three stage wins to hold an overnight lead of 24.1s over Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera.
Speaking following the action, Tanak said:
All in all, everything has gone to plan today. We had a good morning, but the stages were very demanding, incredibly fast and there are always places where the pace notes are not 100%. This afternoon, we took all the tyres we had, and we used them all; it was important just to get through and not make any mistakes. We were pushing on the first loop, but we wanted to come through the final stages of the day cleanly. The last one was still quite stressful on the tyres, but we completed it with no trouble and that was the target.
A stunning SS8 saw Thierry Neuville move up to third place overall just ahead of Craig Breen. Speaking following Saturday’s action the Belgian said:
I am happy at the end of the afternoon’s stages which went well; we had good tyre management and I think we were fastest over the loop. I was a bit surprised to see the gap was so big after that final stage to be honest. It was definitely better than this morning. I expected a better run on the opening loop because the car was working well but I couldn’t take all the risks due to some communications issues. Martijn and I have been making some improvements but there’s more to come. The main target tomorrow is to bring home a double podium for Hyundai Motorsport. The stage is a different profile to those we’ve done so far but the car has been working well, I have been feeling comfortable and if our communication is working well, then we’ll go for it.”
Craig Breen had a disastrous day and fell to fourth overall and speaking following the action the Waterford native said:
It’s been a frustrating day, but we are still in fourth so it’s not too bad. You need to be at the absolute top of your game in these conditions. I started the first stage this morning well, got into a rhythm but then made a few mistakes, got sucked into a few snowbanks and lost the momentum. That upset the loop, really. I haven’t driven on these conditions for a long time and the pace notes weren’t as fast as they needed to be. I’ve tried my best to manage things – including the tyres – but it’s tricky when I don’t have any reference points. On the final stage, Thierry set an incredible time but compared to those around us we weren’t too far away. I know we can do it. The raw speed is there; it’s just getting the other refinements in order. The plan now is to keep hold of fourth and assess the situation to see what we do in the Power Stage.”
Hyundai Motorsports Team Principal Andrea Adamo commented saying:
In summary, I would have to say it has not been a bad day for us with Ott continuing to lead and Thierry fighting back into the provisional podium positions. It has been good to see their performances and I am sure they will still push for more tomorrow. However, it has been sad to see Craig slip back to fourth, not nice for us or for him. I would also like to say well done to Oliver [Solberg, who is driving a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC this weekend] for what he has done so far. We asked him to enjoy himself and it certainly looks like he has done that.”