The Estonians are back! The popular Finnskogen 1 stage proved to be a happy hunting ground for Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja in their Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. This, SS3, was a 20.68km sprint through the forests with road and grip conditions similar to those in SS2 with snow and patches of ice, as well as hard gravel. The Estonian slid and snaked his i20 Coupe through the stage with confidence, and upset Toyota Gazoo Racing’s management as he set the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons.
Toyota Gazoo Racing occupied the next three positions on stage times, with Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin second place by just 0.9 seconds, Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen in third despite stalling their Yaris WRC on a junction to finish 4.2 seconds adrift of Tänak through the stage.
To broaden the smile on Tommi Mäkinen’s face as Team Principal at Toyota Gazoo Racing however, Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia found their rhythm in SS3 to claim the fourth fastest time, giving Toyota a strong footing for the next two stages this afternoon.
Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm took their M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC to fifth in the stage, with Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT) and Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT) following closely. In fact, the seven fastest through SS3 were covered by just 8.4 seconds.
Running first on the road has its advantages on Rally Sweden, but on this loop it is slowing Thierry Neuville and his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. The overall classification remains the same after SS3, with Evans leading Tänak by just 0.2 seconds and Rovanperä in third at 5.3 seconds adrift.
With no snow banks to help minimise mistakes, crews need to be inch-perfect and brave in the braking zones as grip is changeable.
Crews now tackle SS4 Nyckelvattnet 1 and its 18.94km of twists and turns.
Top Ten after SS3:
01) E. Evans (Toyota Yaris WRC) – 19m 58.2s.
02) O. Tänak (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +0.2s
03) K. Rovanperä (Toyota Yaris WRC) +5.3s
04) S. Ogier (Toyota Yaris WRC) +8.2s
05) E. Lappi (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +11.7s
06) T. Neuville (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +11.9s
07) C. Breen (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +14.9s
08) T. Suninen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +20.1s
09) T. Katsuta (Toyota Yaris WRC) +27.7s
10) J-M. Latvala (Toyota Yaris WRC) +01m 01.7s