Well, buckle up folks, as today’s rally was quite a roller coaster ride! Our local superstar, Elfyn Evans, got a surprising upgrade to the leader’s spot at the Secto Rally Finland. You see, his buddy and team-mate Kalle Rovanperä, who was breezing through the rally until then, had his winning streak cut short in a shocking twist.
Imagine this: Rovanperä, our reigning champion and the hero of the home crowd, was cruising ahead with a whopping 55-point lead in this ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. He was nailing it, setting benchmark after benchmark in his Toyota GR Yaris, when suddenly on the day’s seventh stage in Myhinpää, a rare slip-up saw him crash and roll over. Phew, what a sight that was! Thankfully, Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen climbed out of the wreck without a scratch, even though the crash was fierce enough to rip a rear wheel off the car.
That’s when our man Evans, who was second in line, stepped up. He smoothly handled the rest of the stages without a hitch and is now leading by just 6.9 seconds ahead of Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville. Evans shrugged off the day as just “okay”, even though he seemed a tad miffed at losing 2.8 seconds to Neuville in the Harju finale. But he’s still feeling good and is ready for more action tomorrow.[rl_gallery id=”19451″]
The day saw a string of errors and harsh consequences on the notoriously challenging Finnish gravel roads, with Rovanperä not being the only one to lose his footing. Esapekka Lappi from Hyundai met with a tree in SS4 while in fourth place, and Ott Tänak, the initial leader, had to retire his Puma in SS3 due to a serious engine breakdown. Even Neuville had his share of struggles with rear traction and scattered rain showers messing with his visibility.
Meanwhile, Teemu Suninen is slowly but steadily catching up, holding the fourth position overall, just 12.4 seconds behind Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta. Toyota’s team principal Jari-Matti Latvala, making his first WRC start since 2020, is not too far behind in the top five.
Going into the longest leg on Saturday, with eight special stages covering 160.68 km, we’ve got Nikolay Gryazin, Oliver Solberg, and Adrien Fourmaux wrapping up the top 10. Can’t wait to see what the next day has in store for us, so stay tuned!
Check out the live results here : https://rallylive.net/rally-finland-2023