Leg 3 : Rautenbach and Bonato in the points
This year's Rally Finland ended at midday after 23 special stages that gave the C2 Junior Experience drivers something to remember. There were good times and there were also bad times especially for Martin Prokop, whose C2 Super 1600 led the rally after the opening day only to retire on day two. The C2-R2 honours go to Yoann Bonato, who was eighth overall of the Junior runners.
The specialised Finnish stages got the better of C2 Super 1600 driver Martin Prokop at the beginning of the second leg. The Czech was dominating the action, with a lead of more than 40 seconds, but he had to sacrifice the points that would have taken him to a provisional third place in the Junior Championship after going off the road. Aaron Burkart, also driving a C2 Super 1600, suffered the same fate during the same second leg but at least he was able to re-start the final day under the SupeRally regulations. Burkart battled all the way to the finish, setting some promising times. The young German's eventual 14th place was not a fair reflection of his performance over the course of the event. Conrad Rautenbach set a fastest stage time on Saturday but then lost time with a broken brake hose, caused by a double puncture. He dropped from second to seventh, but made up three place again on the final leg setting fastest time on the last stage. The Zimbabwean finished fifth, just 18 seconds behind the car in front, scoring some important championship points.
Yves Matton, in charge of the customer competition programme at Citroen Sport, commented: "Once more our cars have demonstrated just how competitive they are by running at the top of the leaderboard. It's just a pity though that our Super 1600 drivers made some mistakes that deprived them of the chance to exploit the car's potential to the maximum."
After a consistently solid event, Yoann Bonato claimed eighth place at the wheel of his Citroen C2-R2 run by PH-Sport.
Matton added : "We're pleased to see that our C2-R2 entrants have continued to score points since the start of the season. They have demonstrated a lot of potential at every rally, sometimes finishing in front of Super 1600 cars. Yoann, supported by the Equipe de France FFSA, did a really good job here. He dominated the C2-R2 category all weekend thanks to his consistency and speed. He has adapted himself very well indeed to driving on gravel...."
There was a close battle for the runner-up spot in the C2-R2 category throughout the final two days between Kronos Junior Team driver Raphael Auquier and World Rally Team Ireland's Shaun Gallagher. Auquier had the final say, finishing ninth overall in the Juniors ahead of Gallagher. Matton commented : " Auquier drove a really consistent and sensible rally, which allowed him to move up the leaderboard after a steady start, " Gallagher found it hard to get used to the unique Finnish stages over the first leg, but grew in confidence as the rally progressed and eventually finished 11th. Italy's Stefano Benoni lost a lot of time after retiring from leg one, and was not able to improve on 15th at the finish.
Finland was the last gravel event of the season for the Juniors. Next up are three asphalt events, starting with the Rallye Deutschland that gets underway on August 17.
Final Junior Championship classification at the end of Rally Finland*
1. P. Sandell/ E. Axelsson (Renault Clio) 3h 25 min 14,5 s 2. K. Pinomaki/T. Nikkola (Renault Clio) + 1 min 19,1 s 3. M. Kosciuszko/M. Szczepaniak (Renault Clio) + 4 min 13,7 s 4. C. Rautenbach/D. Senior (Citroen C2 Super 1600) + 4 min 31,8 s 5. T. Suominen/J. Ottman (Suzuki Swift) + 5 min 46,4 s 6. V. Rozukas/A. Shoshas (Suzuki Swift) + 9 min 14,5 s 7. A. Bettega/S. Scattolin (Suzuki Ignis) + 12 min 28,5 s 8. Y. Bonato/B. Boulloud (Citroen C2-R2) + 13 min 05,8 s 9. R. Auquier/C. Pirotte (Citroen C2-R2) + 16 min 53,9 s 10. J. Nikara/P. Nikara (Honda Civic) + 17 min 48,6 s 11. S. Gallagher/C. Jenkins (Citroen C2-R2) + 19 min 30,1 s .../... 14. A. Burkart/M. Kolbach (Citroen C2 Super 1600) + 35 min 08,6 s 15. S. Benoni/E. Cantoni (Citroen C2-R2) + 55 min 48,0 s
FIA Junior Championship at the end of Rally Finland*
1. P-G. Andersson 28 points 2. U. Aava 24 pts 3. P. Sandell 19 pts 4. J. Molder 14 pts 5. A. Burkart 9 pts 6. J. Beres 9 pts 7. K. Pinomaki 8 pts 8. M. Prokop 6 pts 9. A. Cortinovis 6 pts 10. M. Kosciuszko 6 pts 11. C. Rautenbach 5 pts 12. T. Suominen 4 pts 13. V. Rozukas 4 pts 14. M. Rueda 3 pts 15. S. Gallagher 3 pts 16. T. Svenkerud 3 pts 17. A. Bettega 2 pts 18. B. Bouffier 2 pts 19. Y. Bonato 1 pt
* subject to official confirmation from the FIA </pre> -credit: citroen.com