Vatanen Holds Lead On Home Debut

Vatanen Holds Lead On Home Debut

Finnish driver Max Vatanen used his home advantage to take first blood in the opening stage in Lankamaa. The Fin covered 23.47km in a time of 13:30.1 only to relinquish his early lead to Spaniard José Suárez after stage two , who posted two consistent second place times in the opening half of the afternoon’s racing. Estonian driver Sander Pärn took the second stage victory, but only after dropping ten seconds in the first, as he had to pass two cars on the stage.

Only 11 crews tackled the first stage. Canadian Leo Urlichich and his new British co-driver Darren Garrod were forced to retire early, following an injury sustained by Garrod during that morning’s pre-event test.

The second pass of Lankamaa showed deeply rutted roads with large rocks, leading to a number of problems for drivers. Nicolas Amiouni and Quentin Gilbert dropped significant time and leader José Suárez was forced to retire after going off the road, taking a wheel off in the process. Nil Solans also failed to complete the stage. With Suárez out, Max Vatanen reclaimed his overall standing, going into the final stage with an 11 second lead. Norway’s Marius Aasen took the third stage win, moving into second overall.

Yeray Lemes showed his form on asphalt by claiming the final stage win of the day in Jyväskylä town centre, followed by Quentin Gilbert and Sander Pärn in second and third respectively. At the end of day one Vatanen leads Aasen and Pärn with just 10.8 seconds separating all three.

Max Vatanen said: “I’m happy with the way I drove today, especially in the difficult conditions of Lankamaa 2. The road had lots of rocks and ruts, some of which really made the car jump around, so I’m glad we didn’t suffer a puncture. I hope to continue this level of driving, taking things slowly and wisely. I didn’t perform well in the final stage so things could be better. But they could also be worse.”

Marius Aasen said: “It’s been a good day, we had a clean and safe run. We heard that conditions were pretty bad going into stage three so I slowed down on our pace notes because I didn’t quite trust them. The ruts weren’t too much of a problem but the areas with exposed rocks were causing cars in front puncture issues so I’m happy we made it through without one. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, getting back to the longer stages.”

Sander Pärn said: “On the first stage we caught two cars and had to pass, which I managed to do thankfully. We dropped about ten seconds there so we had some catching up to do. I sped up to about 80% in the second stage, just to make sure I wasn’t left behind. On the second pass of Lankamaa I was more careful, trying hard to avoid the rocks. I feel we have a relaxed position and that there is more I can do over the course of the weekend. It’s a long rally.”

Overall Standings After Day 1

1. Max Vatanen / Mikko Lukka 35m 14.4s
2. Marius Aasen / Marlene Engan 35m 23.1s
3. Sander Pärn / James Morgan 35m 25.2s
4. Tom Cave / Craig Parry 35m 29.1s
5. Yeray Lemes / Rogelio Penãte 35m 46.0s
6. Szymon Kornicki / Przemyslaw Mazur 37m 03.5s
7. Quentin Gilbert / Renaud Jamoul 38m 21.5s
8. Ghislain de Mevius / Johan Jalet 40m 34.8s
9. Nicolas Amiouni / Joseph Matar 43m 22.8s
10. José Suárez / Borja Rozada 45m 02.6s
11. Nil Solans / Miquel Ibanez 46m 24.8s


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