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Fierce fight for fourth in Finland


Thierry and Hayden split by just 2.7 seconds

Two of our crews are in the top six, in a close four-way battle

After 150kms of classic Finnish roads today over eight stages, including two reverse runs over the famous Ouninpohja, only 12 seconds separate fourth to seventh positions.

Unlike recent events, all our crews struggled to find the optimum set-up for our New Generation i20 WRC cars and to match the pace of the leading cars. With a gap of 20-seconds to the provisional podium, the focus tomorrow for Thierry and Hayden will be on winning the battle for fourth and fifth ahead of Ott Tanak and Mads Ostberg .

“We can’t take away too many positives from today,” said our Team Principal Michel Nandan. “All drivers have reported difficulties with the set-up of the car, and we have to try and identify what we can do for tomorrow.”

It’s all very close

Thierry and Nicolas have been pushing but the stage times haven’t been there as they slipped down to fifth from their provisional podium at the end of the first day. Without a perfect set-up on the fast Finnish roads, confidence and stage times are always likely to suffer. Even with changes for the afternoon they still proved elusive.

“We have done the maximum we could do, and we’re involved in a nice, fight with Hayden,” said Thierry. “The times are so close that it won’t take much for us to suddenly be back in podium contention. We just have to keep focused on our job and hope that we have a trouble-free Sunday morning.”
 
Exhilarating but puzzling

Despite being second on the road, Hayden and John felt more confident today but still couldn’t find the speed they wanted. Like teammate Thierry, Hayden felt he was pushing as much as possible, but apart from the disadvantage to sweeping the roads, he struggled to understand where they were loosing time.

“We started the day feeling more confident,” said Hayden. “We made some changes to the car balance, adjusting some suspension settings, and it was more to my liking. It was difficult to pinpoint why we were losing the time because I couldn’t have driven any faster. We’ll sit down with the team, do some homework and try to sort things out. I can’t be too negative – we get to drive a WRC car on these amazing Finnish stages and that’s special.”
 
Steep learning curve

Making a competitive debut in our New Generation i20 WRC on the demanding Finnish roads was always going to be a steep learning curve for Kevin and Seb. Acclimatisation to the WRC car on the fast stages was not helped today when they lost the paddleshift during the afternoon loop.

“To be in Finland for the first time in a 4×4, it’s not realistic to be on the pace immediately,” said Kevin. “It’s the first time in this car, too, so we’ve been making changes on each stage to get a better understanding. Our aim is still the top-ten, and we have four stages to achieve that tomorrow.”
 
Fight for Manufacturer points

It’s not in our nature to settle for the lesser positions, so we need to identify and resolve the problems we’ve had so far this weekend. But with only four stages tomorrow it will be tough to make much progress.

“It’s a bit frustrating that we have not been able to mount a strong challenge because I am sure we are capable of more,” said Michel. “The battle for the podium is difficult and as it currently stands we are looking at getting two cars inside the top-five. That would still deliver a good number of points for the manufacturers’ standings.”

Overall Classification after Day Two

1. K. Meeke / P. Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC) 2:22:00.8
2. J. M. Latvala / M. Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +41.0
3. C. Breen / S. Martin (Citroën DS3 WRC) +1:43.0
4. O. Tanak / R. Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:54.5
5. T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +2:00.9
6. H. Paddon / J. Kennard (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +2:03.6
7. M. Østberg / O. Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:06.0
8. A. Mikkelsen / A. Jaeger (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +2:24.0
9. E. Lappi / J. Ferm (Škoda Fabia R5) +4:23.6
10. T. Suninen / M. Markkula (Škoda Fabia R5) +5:10.5
11. K. Abbring / S. Marshall (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +5:16.3

 

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