Rally fans across the globe are looking forward to Rally Finland for a number of reasons, but arguably, the evident Finnish battle for supremacy is the number one.
For the first time in many years there is a greater Finnish presence at the top level of the World Rally Championship.
Toyota Gazoo Racing, based out of Finland, have three rally winners, and are charging towards the top step of the manufacturers’ standings too.
With four time champion, Tommi Makinen, at the helm, the team has a huge presence in Finland, and the upcoming event should see their drivers all challenging for the lead at some point in the Jyvaskyla-based event.
However, we mustn’t discount the Finnish presence at M-Sport.
The Finnish presence in the WRC is helped by rising stars such as Teemu Suninen. Photo: Red Bull
Teemu Suninen drove outstandingly well in his WRC appearances last year, notably in Finland, and with a number of events to acclimatise to the Ford Fiesta WRC, he could go a few steps further and chase for his first championship win.
Toyota’s Esapekka Lappi and Jari-Matti Latvala have won the rally before, and are big chances to do so again.
Their Estonian teammate, Ott Tanak, joined the Finnish team this season, and has displayed fantastic speed, particularly in Argentina, when he was on another level compared to his closest rivals.
The Tanak and Toyota combination will be a formidable line-up into the future, and there’s no reason he cannot stand atop the podium this weekend.
Finland’s potential dominance of the event looks more likely as their competition has struggled either in general, or in the past at Rally Finland.
Championship leaders, Thierry Neuville and Hyundai, have struggled ever since their return to the championship at this rally, with their car never being able to come the grips with the unique landscape and roads that Rally Finland presents.
Thierry Neuville won in Italy, but his Hyundai team have always struggled in Finland. Photo: Jaanus Ree
M-Sport’s Sebastien Ogier has a huge fight on his hands for the championship, and arguably won’t take the risk for a win over Lappi or Latvala. He also had two crashes in Finland last year.
Elfyn Evans has a second placed finish at the rally, but was on DMack tyres at the time, when he had a possible advantage compared to the rest of the field running on Michelin tyres.
Citroen, also, have had their troubles in Finland since Kris Meeke’s win in 2016.
Despite Craig Breen’s podium there last year, it’s hard to see them fighting for the podium with the season they’ve had so far. But you never know!
Jari-Matti Latvala has not won since Rally Sweden last season.
It leaves your best bet looking right back at the Toyota team or the rising Finn, Suninen.
All in all, it’s looking like a driver with a strong Finnish connection who’ll take the victory.
And don’t be surprised if the Finnish quartet of Latvala, Tanak, Lappi and Suninen lock out the four top places of Rally Finland.
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