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WRC Rally Finland: Meeke extends advantage

Kris Meeke returns to the mid-day service with his lead over Jari-Matti Latvala up to 36.4secs
CLICK HERE for Rally Finland leaderboard after SS16


Kris Meeke has increased his lead on Rally Finland following Saturday's first loop, which was interrupted after Lorenzo Bertelli and Eric Camilli both had accidents.

Meeke began the second full day of competition with an 18.1sec margin over Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala and a storming time in Ouninpohja 1 saw him take his fifth stage win of the event, beating the Finn by 13.4s.

The Ulsterman was then second in SS14, 0.4secs shy of Ott Tanak, before winning SS15, the final 'proper' test of the loop.

Following the short 4.23km Saalahti 1 super special, Meeke now heads back to service in Jyvaskyla with 36.4secs in hand.

“The rhythm is really nice. I love this stage [SS15] and the car is working super well. Everything seems to be working well. I won't forget this morning for a long time. We still have a job to do though,” Meeke told the official WRC site after Pihlajakoski 1.

“We have to manage our position,” added the Citroen DS3 WRC pilot after SS16, “and that's perhaps the most difficult part of the job.

“We've done it before, though.”

Meanwhile, Latvala was second in SS13, third in SS14 and SS15 and fourth in SS16, losing out to the Citroen as he is third in the order, while Meeke is further back.

“There is no point taking big risks,” Latvala said after SS14. “The cleaning effect is so much and Kris is in such a great position.”

Behind, Meeke's team-mate Craig Breen holds third, 46.3secs off Latvala, and over 10secs up on the Hyundais of Thierry Neuville and Hayden Paddon in fourth and fifth, split by just 0.9secs.

Breen's overall position remained uncertain for most of the morning as he lost over 2 minutes in SS14 when Camilli went off. He was later awarded a notional time.

“I know I've said this before but it all seems very natural,” Breen said. “Okay, too cautious in a few places, but we're in the ballpark and we have to be happy with that.”

M-Sport's Mads Ostberg complete the top six, 6.9secs shy of Paddon, with VW Motorsport II pilot Andreas Mikkelsen seventh - losing time with an off in SS14 - and DMACK WRT man Ott Tanak eighth, only 4.7secs between them. Tanak would, however, have been ahead, but for a rear left puncture in Pihlajakoski 1.

WRC2 leader Esapekka Lappi is next up in P9, from Kevin Abbring and then Lappi's closest class rival, Teemu Suninen, 42.6secs adrift. Pontus Tidemand holds third in WRC2, 6.1secs off second.

Of the rest, Championship leader Sebastien Ogier continues to run well down and after losing over 15 minutes on Friday when he got stuck in a ditch in Surkee 2, he had more issues this morning, picking up 2mins 10secs worth of penalties before SS14 as he was 13 minutes late to the time control due to brake problems. He is currently 46th overall.

“A brake problem and we couldn't really fix it," Ogier confirmed after Paijala 1. “It's definitely not my weekend. I had a very long pedal in this stage [SS14].”

As for retirements, Bertelli was the first major exit of the day crashing into a ditch in Ouninpohja 1. Bertelli and co-driver Simone Scattolin – who was knocked unconscious in the crash – were later taken to hospital for some medical checks. The stage was neutralised afterwards.

Similarly, Paijala 1 was also stopped, but this time after Camilli had a big accident 2.1kms in. M-Sport later tweeted that Camilli and co-driver Benjamin Veillas had both been in contact and were okay. Camilli had been ninth overall prior to his exit.

Rally Finland now continues this afternoon with repeat runs through this morning's four stages.

SS17, the second-run through the 33km Ouninpohja test, is due to start at 14.48 hours local time [12.48 hours UK time].
by Rob Wilkins



Related Pictures

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Kris Meeke (GBR) Citroen DS3 WRC, Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team

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