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TÄNAK WINS ESTONIA “TEST”; NOW FOR FINLAND SPEEDFEST

//TÄNAK WINS ESTONIA “TEST”; NOW FOR FINLAND SPEEDFEST

TÄNAK WINS ESTONIA “TEST”; NOW FOR FINLAND SPEEDFEST

TOYOTA star Ott Tänak has set his sights on winning the FIA World Rally Championship’s fastest event in Finland next month after dominating his home rally in Estonia at the weekend.

Driving a Toyota Yaris WRC, Tänak won 13 of the 15 stages on Shell Helix Rally Estonia to cruise to a 63.5 sec. victory over Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen, with Esapekka Lappi completing the podium in a Citroën C3, a further 23.6 sec behind.

With all WRC manufacturer teams entering Estonia – Elfyn Evans finished fourth for M-Sport Ford – the non-championship promotional event was used as a training and test opportunity before the daunting Neste Rally Finland on 1-4 August.

The events share similar smooth gravel terrain and some of the fastest stages in rallying; Sunday’s penultimate stage was run at a staggering 141 kmh average.

Tänak controlled Saturday’s opening leg, winning seven of the nine competition stages in frequently-changing weather to build a 33.4sec lead over Mikkelsen’s Hyundai i20. His dominance was even greater on Sunday, when he won all six tests.

Tänak will now look to carry over his speed to the WRC’s ninth championship round at Rally Finland, which he won last year. He leads Citroën’s Sébastien Ogier and Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville in a close fight for the drivers’ title, which looks increasingly likely to be settled in the final round at Kennards Hire Rally Australia on the NSW Coffs Coast on 14-17 November.

Finland’s Lappi said the Estonian roads were even faster than those on his home rally, which he won in 2017.

“The stages here are certainly a little faster than at home and the surface is softer too, but that enabled me to get re-accustomed to the sensations and techniques of driving at very high speeds,” he said.

Teenage star Oliver Solberg won the R5 class and took seventh overall in a Volkswagen Polo. The 17-year-old led from the opening stage and cruised home with a 1min 28.5sec advantage, despite jarring his back after some big jumps.

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Chris Nixon

Chris Nixon is Media Manager for Kennards Hire Rally Australia.