COLIN CLARK

“Fin­land is a per­fect storm of rally fever”

Motor Sport News - - Rally Finland -

W

hat a place Jy­vaskyla is. If every rally in the cham­pi­onship could bot­tle the se­cret recipe that this place uses and lib­er­ally sprin­kle their events with the elixir of suc­cess, then my good­ness me, the WRC would truly be a force to be reck­oned with.

Is it re­ally a se­cret recipe though? Maybe more like the per­fect storm of ral­ly­ing fever. Take a good size city that gets be­hind the event 100 per cent, find a ser­vice park that’s within walk­ing dis­tance of the town cen­tre, throw in some of the most dra­matic, in­tox­i­cat­edly ex­hil­a­rat­ing stages in the world and top it all off with 100,000 madly pas­sion­ate fans. Easy re­ally isn’t it?

Well OK, maybe not so easy. But it works here. The world’s best rally with­out a shadow of doubt just seems to get bet­ter and bet­ter each year. To me it seems like ev­ery­one who is any­one in ral­ly­ing con­verges on this slightly ugly, but strangely en­dear­ing city at the end of July each year. The at­mos­phere is in­cred­i­ble.

And of course Jy­vaskyla takes on a slightly dif­fer­ent role this year as the home of the WRC’S new­est man­u­fac­turer team, Toy­ota. More of my news and views on this to come, hope­fully, at a later date.

This year’s event was ob­vi­ously mighty spe­cial for Bri­tish and Ir­ish rally fans, and let me tell you, there were plenty of them here ex­pe­ri­enc­ing first hand his­tory in the mak­ing. Kris Meeke’s per­for­mance was as good as we have seen from any Bri­tish driver any­where in the world. It will go down in the an­nals of ral­ly­ing his­tory as a master­class in how to de­stroy the op­po­si­tion.

But the per­for­mance of young Craig Breen was just as spe­cial. There were seven drivers here start­ing the event with a re­al­is­tic chance of win­ning, Breen should have been happy to fin­ish in the top eight. But he stepped up big time. No he didn’t ac­tu­ally, he leapt, vaulted and pro­pelled him­self up with one of the clever­est and most con­trolled drives I have ever wit­nessed from a driver with lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence in a World Rally Car. He used his road po­si­tion brilliantly but then when the chips were down and the vastly more ex­pe­ri­enced Hyundai boys were sniff­ing his ex­haust fumes, he only went and showed them a clean set of heals and took his first stage win. A sim­ply stun­ning ef­fort.

And it now gives team bosses Matton, Nan­dan, Capito, Wil­son and dare I say Maki­nen a very big headache in­deed. There are a few good young­sters out there all vy­ing for seats next year, but could any of them have achieved what Breen has done here? I don’t think so. Craig Breen’s phone could be very hot in­deed in the com­ing weeks – make sure you keep it well charged, mate!

AU­GUST 3 2016

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