1 August 2012
Loeb top in Finland qualifying
Sebastien Loeb heads pack in qualifying
Citroen number one driver Sebastien Loeb was quickest today in the qualifying stage for Rally Finland.
Loeb, who was also fastest in free practice, completed the 4.62 kilometre Ruuhimäki test in 2 minutes 17.470 seconds, out pacing Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala by 0.555 seconds. Seb will now get first choice of start position for the opening leg on Thursday.
“I had a good drive, but we didn't know where to find the best grip [due to rain during free practice],” Loeb said.
“It was all right,” Latvala added. “It is a bit easier to pick up my position for tomorrow now.”
Mikko Hirvonen meanwhile came in third, followed by Petter Solberg, who admitted he made 'one small mistake' and then Evgeny Novikov.
“I went a bit sideways but no panic,” Hirvonen commented. “I don't need to be the first guy on the road tomorrow so I can see what the guys in front of me are doing.”
Behind, Mads Ostberg was sixth in his Adapta WRT-run Ford Fiesta RS WRC, with Ott Tanak, Thierry Neuville, Chris Atkinson and Jari Ketomaa rounding out the top-ten. Atkinson stalled at the start, while Tanak and Ketomaa both made errors at the first junction. Ken Block was only 14th, behind Matti Rantanen, Martin Prokop and Riku Tahko although he was slowed by a misfire.
Drivers will now select their start positions in a few hours time. Rally Finland then gets underway proper tomorrow [Thursday], with SS1, the 13.68 kilometre Koukunmaa test, starting at 17.23 hours local time (15.23 hours UK time). Day 1 includes three stages and a total competitive distance of 29.90 kilometres.
Rally Finland: Qualifying stage:
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 2m 17.470s M
2. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +0.555secs M
3. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +0.806s M
4. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +1.219s M
5. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +1.223s M
6. Mads Ostberg Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC +2.032s M
7. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +2.213s M
8. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC +2.617s M
9. Chris Atkinson Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC +2.824sM
10. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3.447s
11. Matti Rantanen Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3.992s
12. Martin Prokop Ford Fiesta RS WRC +6.574s
13. Riku Tahko MINI John Cooper Works WRC +8.957s
14. Ken Block Monster WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +9.527s
15. Armindo Araujo WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +9.996s
16. Sebastian Lindholm Ford Fiesta RS WRC +11.595s
17. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +15.971s
all times unofficial
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