And surprise surprise, it was in fact Loeb who took the win. For once it appeared that team orders were not in place, with Loeb and Hirvonen fighting right until the last stage, but it was Loeb who came out on top. Mind you, it was a close one, with just 6.1 seconds separating the two drivers after the rally finished.
Hirvonen proved a point (well, 3 in fact) by winning the power stage, with Loeb managing third adding an extra point to his 25 for the win. Loeb is now 43 points ahead in the drivers championship, with Hirvonen in second place. You just can't fault the Frenchman for his talent though, as he showed every ounce of class in winning such a tough rally, without a single problem all day.
One person who didn't have a problem-free day was Ken Block. He had a very (VERY) near miss on day 1; ending up first on two wheels, and then in a ditch. Somehow he managed to keep the car on the road, and actually worked his way to 10th position overall. Sadly that wasn't that, and he experienced a problem on stage 14. He seemed to land overly-heavy on a small jump and was sent into a wild slide. It was then discovered that the control arm had broken and his rally was over. A true shame, as Ken is certainly entertaining to watch.
More frustrated drivers could be found over in the Ford tent, with both Latvala and Solberg unhappy about the way the rally panned out. Latvala hoped to challenge for the win, but could not match the pace of the Citroens despite several changes in car setup. Solberg just didn't seem on the pace throughout, although he did salvage an extra 2 points on the power stage by coming second fastest. The only positive to take from Finland was that both drivers finished, earning Ford some good points. This applies to Latvala especially, as he has experienced some bad luck so far this season. Whilst he couldn't challenge for the win, he did show an approach which suggests he could become a more consistent driver in the future and securing more points in the process.
Mads Otsberg finished the rally in 5th place, and he retains fourth in the drivers championship. Finland showed just how fast it is with some of the crashes seen on the stages. Irishman Breen had a huge off, but thankfully both driver and co-driver escaped unharmed. Neuville rolled on day two, restarting on day three under Rally 2 regulations. Evgeny Novikov had a big crash which would appear to have ended his rally, but he somehow managed to make it back to service and his car was repaired in a seemingly-impossible 34 minutes!
Below you will find the standings for the championships. The next rally is Rallye Deutschland, from the 24th-26th August. That's all for now!
|1.||Citroen Total World Rally Team||280|
|2.||Ford World Rally Team||171|
|3.||M-Sport Ford World Rally Team||115|
|4.||Qatar World Rally Team||49|
|5.||Citroen Junior World Rally Team||48|
|6.||Adapta World Rally Team||37|
|7.||MINI WRC Team||26|
|8.||Brazil World Rally Team||16|