‘A new Vata­nen takes home vic­tory’

Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

A Vata­nen wins in Fin­land again. This time it was Ari’s son Max who took the Drive DMACK Fi­esta Tro­phy honours in his Ford Fi­esta R2T.

Vata­nen Jr might not have taken the over­all vic­tory his fa­ther man­aged at home in 1981 and three years later in 1984, but Max’s suc­cess is the big­gest of his ca­reer to date – not least be­cause it lands him two DMACK prize drives in an M-sport Fi­esta R5 in next year’s WRC2 series.

The younger Vata­nen ar­rived in Jy­vaksyla as favourite and de­liv­ered with a beau­ti­ful and fault­less drive. At first he was forced to give best to charg­ing Brit Osian Pryce, the series rookie hunt­ing a sec­ond win from three DDFT starts, who led at the end of day one. But when Pryce top­pled into the trees on the out­side of a tight­en­ing right in Pai­jala, Vata­nen was handed a near minute lead he wouldn’t re­lin­quish.

Bri­tish stars Gus Green­smith and Jon Arm­strong both fea­tured early on in the event. The for­mer was slowed by a bro­ken wire on his car’s waste­gate, rob­bing him of boost on Fri­day af­ter­noon, while Arm­strong went sec­ond quick­est in Juko­jarvi, only to roof his Ford on the fol­low­ing Sur­kee test.

If the lo­cal fans were con­cerned at the lack of front­line Finns in the World Rally Cham­pi­onship, they only needed to look at the pre­mier sup­port series: WRC2, where Es­apekka Lappi and Teemu Suni­nen lined up as favourites. Their fight started a fort­night ago on the Au­to­glym Ralli, a Rally Fin­land loosener based near Tam­pere, south-west of Jy­vaskyla. There, Suni­nen went off on SS2 while Lappi crushed his ri­vals in a sim­i­lar fash­ion to what he man­aged to do here 12 months ago.

This year, it was more of the same with an­other master­class from Lappi who took a 40-sec­ond win from Suni­nen. While Lappi took the lau­rels, Suni­nen took con­trol of the WRC2 ti­tle race and richly de­serves sig­nif­i­cant credit for his Fin­land drive. It was only his third start on his home WRC round and his first in a four-wheel drive car.

Pon­tus Tide­mand over­came a steady start on Fri­day morn­ing to en­gage in a scrap for sec­ond with Suni­nen, but the Swede’s event turned to dis­as­ter when he crashed out on the fi­nal stage.

El­fyn Evans’ hopes of WRC2 glory all but dis­ap­peared fol­low­ing an elec­tri­cal glitch on his Ford Fi­esta R5. The Welsh­man posted a string of fastest times to bring the M-sport car back up the leader­board onto the bot­tom step of the podium fol­low­ing Tide­mand’s shunt.

Ole Chris­tian Veiby won Ju­nior WRC and WRC3 af­ter a clas­sic bat­tle with Simone Tem­pes­tini in the DS 3 R3 fight. Ju­uso Nord­gren, the Finnish gov­ern­ing body’s prize drive win­ner, took third.

Vata­nen was on Max-imum at­tack at home

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