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Rantanen tops '08 result with fifth

Munchi's Ford 'guest' driver Matti Rantanen put in a brilliant drive to finish fifth on the Neste Oil Rally Finland on Sunday and notch up his best ever result in the World Rally Championship.

After taking an impressive seventh on his home rally last year, Rantanen had set the bar high, but prior to the event he said wanted to do even better this time out and he wasted no time in making his mark on the field.

Following a tenth place finish on the Super Special Stage at the Killeri trotting track on Thursday night the Finn put his local knowledge to good use to scythe through the field on the day one stages north-west of Jyväskylä. By the end of the first leg Rantanen had moved up to fifth overall with only the main championship protagonists in front of him.

His early stage times on Saturday morning were affected by a misfire at low revs as he dropped behind Henning Solberg, but this problem was fixed at the first service and by the end of the longest day the Finn had recovered to finish in the same position that he started.

With Sebastien Ogier pushing him for fifth place there was no let up on Sunday morning. A big moment on SS21 saw Rantanen caught out by a slow corner in another ultra-fast section of Finnish road, but again he recovered to take a four-second advantage into the final two stages.

With Ogier challenging hard, the Finn managed to cling on, holding a nerve-jangling 0.3 second advantage at the end with a stunning third place on SS23 Ruuhimäki, the final stage of the rally.

"I'm very happy today, my result last year was great but this one really tops it," Rantanen reflected. "I started to think I should be closer to the top drivers but I have to remember that the four people above me are full-time professional rally drivers.

"The car that M-Sport provided for me has been fantastic and we hardly changed any settings all rally. I found it difficult on the second day and I felt we were a bit too sideways in some of the stages and lost some time on the loose gravel. But the fight with Ogier today was exciting and a really great feeling to come out on top."

Munchi's Ford regular Federico Villagra meanwhile picked up manufacturer points by finishing in eleventh.

Having sat out the high-speed tests of Rally Poland, 'Coyote' had an uphill struggle ahead of him to adapt to the ultra-fast Finnish roads after his last WRC outing on the Acropolis Rally, one of the slowest on the calendar.




Related Pictures

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Matti Rantanen (FIN) Jan Lonegren (FIN), Ford Focus RS WRC 06
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scotswrcgirl - Unregistered

August 04, 2009 8:53 AM

What a great drive by Rantanen. These are the kind of people we want to see in the WRC all the time. He was beating himself up for not being as fast as Hirvonen and Loeb even though it was his only outing in the WRC this season. He stayed cool when he had Ogier chasing him and he showed the Stobart and Munchi's guys a thing or two about rally driving. It says a lot about the WRC that there are mediocre guys (naming no names) occupying a few manufacturer seats when talent like this is falling by the wayside. Hope he finds a regular WRC drive soon.



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