As we start the second half of the 2018 WRC season the title fight feels the closest it has in years. But from early Friday morning that could easily be forgotten as the rollercoaster roads surrounding Jyväskylä provided the usual thrills and exhilaration.
For anybody who watched Sundays power stage the images of the worlds top rally drivers bringing their Finnish adventure to an end will stay with them for a while, and with that in mind I try to pick apart the individual performances from the weekend.
Quoted after winning the opening Harju street stage dash saying “I just need to be quicker – it’s all up to me.” And boy did he deliver in making the weekend about him, faultless performance throughout even with an unfavourable Friday road position. Top points from the weekend with a power stage win and top marks from me.
Just missing out on 2nd place the flying Finn found form on his home event. Managing to put a difficult first half behind him Toyota will be hoping for a good points haul as the season goes on.
Last years winner would have set himself high expectations and his Saturday pace was fantastic. But a Friday spin and stall dropped him out of winning contention and a daft mistake on Sundays opener means a disappointing 0 points.
Fast loose stages have always suited Mads, but still few were counting him in contention in the Citroen. The way in which he swapped positions with Tanak on Friday and kept Latvala behind on Sunday was mightily impressive and can only help in his pursuit for a 2019 WRC seat.
Luckless Breen, picking up a puncture first stage followed by road sweeping ruined the Irishman’s hopes. Otherwise the podium position pace of 2017 returned offering hope alongside Citroen improvements.
4th overall for a second event in a row but with more impressive pace Hayden appears to be moving in the right direction. Hopefully missing Rally Deutschland will do little to change the trend.
Anybody watching the WRC for the first time this year would hardly believe Thierry was the championship leader. Sweeping the road on Friday was always going to be a hard task but with only 3 top 5 stage times this was a weekend to forget for the Belgian.
A mark for turning up and another for finishing but this was a shocker for the Norwegian. Off the road on Friday when already showing poor pace it’s surprising that Andreas is one of the few in contract next year looking at current form.
Was Finland a big opportunity in the championship battle? Seb will certainly hope not. Road position on Friday was far from ideal but the M-Sport cars never looked ideally suited to the unique roads and in the end only team tactics gave any significant inroad into Neuville’s championship lead.
Fastest of the M-Sport drivers over the weekend even with a loss of brakes in stage 11. But this won’t be remembered greatly by Sunninen who will have to wait another year for a crack at a win on his home event.
No extraordinary pace from Elfyn in Finland this year but kept the car on the road and times were on par with Ogier. A big haul of points in upcoming rounds could flatter a disappointing year for the Welshman.