5 August 2007
Finland - leg 3: Gronholm sets new WRC record.
In the Junior Rally Championship category, Patrik Sandell took the class win, finishing more than a minute up on fellow Renault Clio R3 runner, Kalle Pinomaki.
Michal Kosciuszko completed the JRC podium in his Suzuki Swift, with Conrad Rautenbach fourth and Tapio Suominen fifth.
Citroen's Martin Prokop had dominated the JRC category on day one, but he went off the road on Saturday in SS14 and retired.
A number of drivers' had problems during this event and of the 'works' aces, four failed to make it to the end, namely Jari-Matti Latvala, Manfred Stohl, Daniel Sordo and Petter Solberg.
Latvala was the first 'works' retirement, when he went off the road on Friday in SS7. He had won the first proper test of the event and led post-SS2, until a mistake in SS3 which dropped him down the order. He then tried to put in a charge, which worked until a mistake in Palsankyla. He was unable to re-start under the SupeRally as his off damaged the safety roll cage on his Stobart Ford Focus.
On Saturday, three more 'big' names joined Latvala on the sidelines. Stohl rolled his Kronos-run Citroen Xsara WRC in SS13, while Sordo stopped in SS15 when his Citroen C4 developed an engine problem.
Petter pulled out after SS15 due to severe handling problems, similar to what he experienced in the first loop on Friday. Indeed they were so bad on day one that 'Hollywood' was reduced to tears as he was just so frustrated with it, noting that it felt impossible to drive. Although Subaru managed to fix the problems then, the issue - or issues - reoccurred on Saturday and this time the team couldn't sort it out. Subaru opted not to re-start him on Sunday and instead the car was sent back to their base in the UK to try and figure out what was wrong with it.
Other retirees included Kristian Sohlberg, who rolled in the first proper test, as well as Anton Alen and Skoda privateer, Jan Kopecky – both going out on the final day, the latter after an off in SS21.
The FIA World Rally Championship now continues in two weeks time, when competitors head to Germany for the Rallye Deutschland - the tenth round in the series, which runs from August 17-19.
Loeb has won the event in Germany every single year since 2002 and will be determined to bounce back after the Gronholm-Ford master class this weekend in Finland.
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