RALLY FINLAND…Stage data: SS11…
Jukojarvi 22.50 kilometres…
Jukojarvi is one of the rally’s classics and will run in the opposite direction for the first time in 36 years. It has a bit of everything, except for jumps. It is fast, scarily so in places where crews are flat in top gear for several kilometres. There are numerous spectacular junctions, most of which are approached at high speed.
How the action unfolded
Sebastien Ogier re-took the lead in Finland on SS11 thanks to a stage winning time through the repeated Jukojarvi that was 4.6sec quicker than anybody else.
Conditions were rougher and more rutted than the earlier pass as SS7, but Ogier’s time of 10m18.0s was 13 seconds quicker than he had managed before.
Unusually the Frenchman got out of the car at the finish control and gave it a thorough inspection before talking to the waiting media.
“Everything is fine. I’m just checking the tyre wear,” he said. “This one was good but the afternoon is long and we have to be careful not to get a puncture.”
Asked if he had turned up his pace after the midday service, Ogier said: “I’m pushing, yes, but not like crazy.”
Former rally leader Ostberg is now 4.6sec behind, and felt his rival had made better use of the deep ruts to help steer him around the corners. “I tried but I find it difficult to use the ruts,” he said, “The lines are strange and I was not able to use them 100 percent. He managed. I didn’t”
Thierry Neuville was third quickest, 5.1 seconds slower than Ogier, and felt he could have pushed harder in some places.
Fourth fastest Mikko Hirvonen, like many drivers, was surprised by how much the gravel road surface had deteriorated since the morning. “It’s almost unbelievable how bad it was in places. Really deep ruts, not so nice to drive, but okay, the same for everybody,” he said.
Fellow Citroen DS3 driver Kris Meeke was considering suspension changes before the next stage because the ruts were so deep. “Perhaps we’re a bit low, we’re dragging here and there, taking speed off, we may raise it for the next few stages.”
Martin Prokop started the test in ninth, but dropped 1m38s to the leaders when his Fiesta RS developed an engine problem. “From the start of the stage it got very hot,” Prokop explained. “The temperature is about 140 degrees, it should be about 95. There’s no power. It looks really bad.”
Sure enough, Prokop retired on the following liaison section.