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The WRC teams have used the mid-season break to prepare for a busy end of season, as Martin Holmes discusses. Citroen were happy to send Esapekka Lappi to Estonia as this event provided a full rally’s worth of testing. Lappi finished third overall, his best result since Sweden. Hyundai have been active in Estonia (two cars, Andreas Mikkelsen, second, fifth place for Craig Breen on his first time driving the Hyundai). At Haut-Var an R5 entry was made for Sebastien Loeb, fifth after a puncture), and at Vosges Grand Est (victory for Loeb in a WRC) and Alba (Loeb, WRC) the weekend before Neste Rally. M-Sport sent Eric Camilli to Ypres as a non-competitive “VIP” entry for the first public appearance of the new version Fiesta R5 principally for marketing exposure reasons. But the performance was hard to gauge as the car was running on WRC spec tyres and had different fuel to other competitors. This car then went to Estonia for Teemu Suninen, for which he had no pre-event testing and after recently driving WRC cars, the Finn found the lack of downforce hard to master, but the car went well. Also in Estonia, Elfyn Evans rallied a WRC car and had a heavy landing in which he hurt his back, forcing withdrawal from Neste Rally, and also broke the throttle pedal. The major concern now is whether Evans will be fit for Rallye Deutschland, the team saying that is “not a certainty”. On reflection, the entry of a WRC car in Estonia was probably that which a dedicated pre-event test session would have provided a better testing environment. However, the team found the organisers were very enthusiastic and laid on a great event. Toyota Gazoo Racing, whose base for WRC activities is near Tallinn, sent one car. For them Rally Estonia was good preparation for the upcoming Rally Finland, as these roads are also fast and have jumps. This helped them try different settings and collect again some valuable data during the competition. Any extra opportunity for testing is always good, especially during the actual competition. The team said: “We also wanted to give something back for our fans in the Baltics. We all know that Ott (Tanak) and Martin (Jarveoja) are very popular and rallying itself is very popular, especially in Estonia.”
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