Kris Meeke Wins Finnish Gravel GP, First British To Win In Finland

Kris Meeke has won Neste Oil Rally Finland and creates history by becoming first British driver to win in the country of thousand lakes. Adding icing to the cake, fellow Citroen driver Craig Breen finished third after fierce battle with Ott Tanak, Breen was really emotional after the finish and remembered his former co-driver Gareth Roberts, who died in a crash in 2011. Finnish hot favorite Jari-Matti Latvala finished runner-up this time breaking his home win streak.


Kris Meeke who already had a comfortable lead after Friday, took a big step towards victory by winning the mighty Ouninpohja stage and that too by 13.4 seconds. After the Saturday morning loop he took it cool and calm and extended his lead to 41 seconds by end of Saturday. Finally today Meeke just focused on bringing the car home safely and eventually won by 29.1 seconds. After Saturdays morning loop Latavala was settled for runner-up spot. As he had no answer for Meeke's pace. The mistake he committed on special stage four might have cost him the victory. VW pilot finished second, bringing his home rally winning streak to an end. 

Irishman Craig Breen finished in an impressive third in his fourth WRC start. But it was not that easy for him. Ott Tanak was right behind him and was gaining ground on Breen. But Estonian pushed too hard and crashed out on Oittila test. But Breen could'nt ease off as Thierry Neuville was in a catching distance. but Breen was fastest in special stage 23 and finally finished just 4.6 seconds ahead of Neuville. Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville finished fourth and won power stage as well. His team mate Hayden Paddon was fifth just 2.3 seconds behind Neuville. M-Sport driver Mads Ostberg once again was not up to the task and finished in sixth. Andreas Mikkelsen suffered from his road position and could only manage seventh. Leading WRC 2 driver Finn Esapekka Lappi finished in eight place. Kevin Abbring and Teemu Suninen rounded off the top ten finishers.

WRC 2 victory went to Finnish young talent Esapekka Lappi. Another Finn Teemu Suninen finished second in his Fabia R5. Elfyn Evans was in third two minutes away from leader. JWRC victory went to Norwegian driver Ole Christian Veiby in his Citroen DS3 R3T Max. Max Vatanen took victory in Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy in his Ford Fiesta R2.

                                 Overall Final Classification
Pos.No.
Driver / Co-driver
Vehicle
Pos.SS time
Penalty
Total timeDiff.Leader
Diff.Prev.
17
GBR

1
Meeke Kris / Nagle Paul 
Citroën DS3 WRC 
RC1
1
02:38:05.802:38:05.800:00:00.0
00:00:00.0
22
FIN

2
Latvala J. / Anttila Miikka 
Volkswagen Polo R WRC 
RC1
2
02:38:34.902:38:34.900:00:29.1
00:00:29.1
38
IRL

3
Breen Craig / Martin Scott 
Citroën DS3 WRC 
RC1
3
02:39:47.102:39:47.100:01:41.3
00:01:12.2
43
BEL

4
Neuville T. / Gilsoul Nicolas 
Hyundai i20 WRC 
RC1
4
02:39:51.702:39:51.700:01:45.9
00:00:04.6
54
NZL

5
Paddon Hayden / Kennard John 
Hyundai i20 WRC 
RC1
5
02:39:54.002:39:54.000:01:48.2
00:00:02.3
65
NOR

6
Østberg Mads / Fløene Ola 
Ford Fiesta RS WRC 
RC1
6
02:40:10.402:40:10.400:02:04.6
00:00:16.4
79
NOR

7
Mikkelsen A. / Jæger Anders 
Volkswagen Polo R WRC 
RC1
7
02:40:28.202:40:28.200:02:22.4
00:00:17.8
835
FIN

8
Lappi Esapekka / Ferm Janne 
Škoda Fabia R5 
RC2
1
02:42:59.602:42:59.600:04:53.8
00:02:31.4
920
NLD

9
Abbring Kevin / Marshall S. 
Hyundai i20 WRC 
RC1
8
02:43:28.202:43:28.200:05:22.4
00:00:28.6
1032
FIN

10
Suninen Teemu / Markkula Mikko 
Škoda Fabia R5 
RC2
2
02:43:41.302:43:41.300:05:35.5
00:00:13.1

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What's Happening Behind The Dust Of 2017 World Rally Cars

With the new regulation come into effect from 2017, new cars will hit the stages. Yes it is exciting for the sport. But the question is, where does the current WRC cars stand. And what about the private drivers, as they will be not driving the modern machines as factory drivers.


FIA has already confirmed that only works team drivers will be allowed to drive the 2017 world rally cars, that too after the approval by the FIA itself. Also FIA has mentioned that there will be no separate championship for private drivers who are driving current generation cars. As it will effect the WRC 2 category. Putting some light into this matter, FIA rally director Jarmo Mahonen said, "We want to encourage the private drivers to come in the current cars. But at the same time we have to be careful not to screw the R5 competition, which has been really good. We are still talking about this one and we're going to find a solution, but it's out of the question to make another FIA title for another championship."

Mahonen also said that currently FIA cant stop drivers from entering in 2016 world rally cars. He added, "It's good to have them with us. What we won't do is we won't give them a passport to continue the homologation beyond the next two years - that's when the current cars will reach the end of their life cycle. Driving the current cars does make sense for those drivers looking to make the step to a 2017 car."

This decision of FIA has left some private teams unhappy. Quirin Muller, team manager of Jipocar Czech National which runs Martin Prokop's WRC campaign said, "We have been waiting for four seasons for the privateers' championship which is promised every year to come for the next season." Rich Millener, chief of M-Sport customer programme also stressed that there is a need of series as WRC 2 for drivers making it to modern WRC. He said, "There are guys out there who don't want to drive R5 cars and we have to consider these true privateers who want to stay in a 2016 World Rally Car, At the same time, it's important that we keep the current cars there to bridge the gap between R5 and the 2017 cars. The [performance] gap between R5 and a current World Rally Car is big, but the gap to next year's cars will be even bigger."

Coming to the junior series, that is beneath WRC 2 class. There are speculations about ERC to take charge of junior series from next season. As the current JWRC deal with Citroen will come to an end this year. There is also a possibility of re branding the current Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy as JWRC. Mahonen said, "It's no secret that we have had meetings with Eurosport and running a [single] junior series with ERC is possible. Right now the Junior WRC is too expensive and the R2 cars are perfect."

ERC co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley is certain that his junior class series will be perfect for next season. He said, "We have a constant and ongoing dialogue with the FIA about the overall training of young drivers from regional to WRC level, seeing as everyone seems to reckon that the current system of career progression could be improved. In the last two years, 81 drivers have appeared in the three international junior series but only two drivers have made it all the way to factory [WRC] cars: Stephane Lefebvre and Eric Camilli. Of the three, ERC Junior series is the strongest and has the highest profile."

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WRC Rally Finland - Kris Meeke Leads Finnish Roller Coaster Ahead Of Latvala

Kris Meeke leads Neste Oil Rally Finland after end of day two. He holds 18.1 seconds lead over Finnish favorite Jari-Matti Latvala. It seems like VW boss Jost Capitos's predictions were right. Meeke made utmost use of his road position and kept up the pace whole day to challenge the VW Polo's. Latvala tried to catch him, but Meeke was up to the task. Sebastien Ogier had a rare off road incident by going into a ditch in a hairpin. 


Finnish gravel GP got underway with a short special stage Harju. Ott Tanak and Andreas Mikkelsen were joint fastest. Tanak made it clear that he would push hard as hell. Day two of Rally Finland was a busy day, with eleven special stages to run. Meeke was fast from the first stage itself, he was battling with Ott Tanak for stage wins. Unfortunately Tanak broke the suspension of his Fiesta WRC. By midday service Meeke was leading by 18.8 seconds. Latavala too had his share of incidents. In special stage four he suffered a puncture and had some cosmetic damage to his Polo, but he lost only 16 seconds, and was back on pace in second position.

In the afternoon loop Tanak again began his assault. Won two stages, but again luck was not with him. Had a puncture in special stage 10. Meeke never faced any major issue and was posting consistent top stage times. By the end of day he was leading by 18.1 seconds. Latvala got his confidence back, but could not match Meeke's pace. Second after day two. Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville was in third after a good day. VW pilot Mikkelsen was just 1.1 seconds behind Neuville in fourth. Craig Breen is in fourth overall, he admitted that lack of experience in a world rally car barred his pace. Hayden Paddon holds fifth just 4.4 seconds behind Breen. M-Sport driver Mads Ostberg is in seventh, Ott Tanak in eight after he suffered problems. Eric Camilli and WRC 2 driver Esapekka Lappi rounded off the top ten after day two.

Another major incident was, Ogier went off the road. He spun out in  a hairpin and his Polo got stuck in a ditch. It took 16 minutes to get going. Ogier said it was a 'stupid' mistake. Currently he is 53rd overall.

                                     Overall Classification
Pos.No.
Driver / Co-driver
Vehicle
Pos.SS time
Penalty
Total timeDiff.Leader
Diff.Prev.
17
GBR

1
Meeke Kris / Nagle Paul 
Citroën DS3 WRC 
RC1
1
01:13:22.201:13:22.200:00:00.0
00:00:00.0
22
FIN

2
Latvala J. / Anttila Miikka 
Volkswagen Polo R WRC 
RC1
2
01:13:40.301:13:40.300:00:18.1
00:00:18.1
33
BEL

3
Neuville T. / Gilsoul Nicolas 
Hyundai i20 WRC 
RC1
3
01:14:06.501:14:06.500:00:44.3
00:00:26.2
49
NOR

4
Mikkelsen A. / Jæger Anders 
Volkswagen Polo R WRC 
RC1
4
01:14:07.601:14:07.600:00:45.4
00:00:01.1
58
IRL

5
Breen Craig / Martin Scott 
Citroën DS3 WRC 
RC1
5
01:14:16.001:14:16.000:00:53.8
00:00:08.4
64
NZL

6
Paddon Hayden / Kennard John 
Hyundai i20 WRC 
RC1
6
01:14:20.401:14:20.400:00:58.2
00:00:04.4
75
NOR

7
Østberg Mads / Fløene Ola 
Ford Fiesta RS WRC 
RC1
7
01:14:25.101:14:25.100:01:02.9
00:00:04.7
812
EST

8
Tänak Ott / Mõlder Raigo 
Ford Fiesta RS WRC 
RC1
8
01:14:36.601:14:36.600:01:14.4
00:00:11.5
96
FRA

9
Camilli Eric / Veillas B. 
Ford Fiesta RS WRC 
RC1
9
01:14:44.801:14:44.800:01:22.6
00:00:08.2
1035
FIN

10
Lappi Esapekka / Ferm Janne 
Škoda Fabia R5 
RC2
1
01:15:24.001:15:24.000:02:01.8
00:00:39.2

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