Starters Seventy-six of the orginal 97 starters began leg three. The route Leg three consisted of only three stages and a competitive distance of 40.75km. The stages of Valkola, Lankamaa and Ruuhimaki are classics in their own right....
Seventy-six of the orginal 97 starters began leg three.
Leg three consisted of only three stages and a competitive distance of 40.75km. The stages of Valkola, Lankamaa and Ruuhimaki are classics in their own right. Fantastic for spectators, they demand 100 per cent of the drivers until the very end. Typically Finnish, the sections are tree-lined smooth gravel, making them drivers' favourites.
Leg three started with a temperature of 19 degrees Celsius at 0900hrs, rising to 23 degrees Celsius. It was dry and sunny all day.
Subaru's Chris Atkinson and his co-driver Stephane Prevot completed Rally Finland in fourth place today. On only his fourth attempt at the notoriously tricky event, the 27-year-old Australian got off to an excellent start when he set the fastest time on Thursday's first stage and kept a consistent and rapid pace for the rest of the event. The Subaru team's newest signings Xevi Pons and Xevi Amigo finished sixth overall after a remarkable team debut in their Impreza WRC2007 -- a car they had never driven competitively before this weekend.
SS21: 1015HRS VALKOLA (10.38KM)
The cars were released from Parc Ferme from 0930hrs into a 10-minute
service just before the final loop of the final leg of Rally Finland
commenced. Xavier Pons was first up for the Subaru World Rally Team,
starting the stage ninth on the road. Chris Atkinson recorded the equal
fourth fastest time, with Xevi right behind. Crucially, Chris increased
his time gap over Henning Solberg in the overall standings to 1m 20s, and
Xevi saw his gap over main contender Urmo Aava widen to 15.8s. Xevi said:
"It was an incredibly bumpy stage this morning but I was able to control
my speed to Aava and increase the gap over him. I am not thinking of the
finish just yet as the next two stages are tricky".
Fastest time: Gronholm (Ford) 5m 35.9s
SS22: 1107HRS LANKAMAA (22.83KM)
The rally's penultimate stage, Lankamaa, had been modified since 2006 to
include an extra 1.6km section near the finish line. With the end of the
rally almost in site, and each driver in the top ten relatively secure in
his position, most crews adopted a cautious approach through the tricky
22km section. Atkinson judged his pace perfectly and brought his Impreza
WRC2007 across the line in the fourth fastest time, while Pons also had a
faultless run to take the sixth quickest time.
Fastest time: Gronholm (Ford) 11m 07.2s
SS23: 1222HRS RUUHIMAKI (7.54KM)
The final stage of Rally Finland was a short blast, the second shortest
of the rally after Killeri. A spectacular stage with its five famous
jumps, the crowds were out in force to see the cars in action for the
last time this weekend. Rounding out a great debut, Xevi Pons and Xavier
Amigo completed the stage with the fourth fastest time to hold off Urmo
Aava and secure their sixth place overall. Chris Atkinson and Stephane
Prevot's run also ensured their fourth place overall, completing a
very encouraging weekend for Subaru.
Fastest time: Gronholm (Ford) 3m 57.8s
Subaru World Rally Team managing director, Richard Taylor
"Chris has done a superb job for the team today, and his fourth place is well deserved. His objective for the leg was to defend his position and get the car to the finish and he did exactly what was required. Chris can be very happy with his performance in Finland; he has driven consistently, set a fastest time and hasn't put a foot wrong all weekend. Xevi should also be encouraged by what he has achieved. Before this rally he had tested the car on gravel for only two days, so sixth overall is a very good result and a strong indication of his potential. Thanks to 19-year-old Mads Ostberg there were three Subaru Imprezas in the top eight, and I'd like to congratulate him for this achievement and on scoring his first World Rally Championship points."
CAR NUMBER 8
Chris Atkinson: "We just tried to keep the pace of the car right through the weekend. To be able to do those times for the first day and a half was great, and let's hope we can continue it for the rest of the year. The car is performing well on tarmac at the moment, so we're confident we can continue this pace in Germany. I'm pleased with the way we have gone this weekend, and think it is encouraging for the team."
CAR NUMBER 17
Xavier Pons: "It feels great to have completed my first rally with the Subaru World Rally Team, and I am very happy. I have a good working relationship with Xavier Amigo which is getting stronger the more we drive the car, and I am fitting in to the team well. Sixth place is very encouraging, and with the kilometres we have covered in the last three legs here I am feeling confident for Germany. Apart from SS8 when we ran slightly off the road and damaged the spoiler, it has been a good weekend for me with no real problems."
Matthieu Bonardel, BFGoodrich Rally Technician
"To the contrary of the cars and drivers, Finland is a relatively easy one for BFGoodrich. The rally is extremely technical, but we saw that the tyres gave the drivers confidence over the jumps here which is important, and we had no punctures. We are of course happy for Chris and Xavier and their performances today. Looking to Germany, tyre selection becomes much more critical so we have a lot of tricky decisions to make before then, but we hope we make the right ones and enable the Subaru World Rally Team to take another step forward there."
The next event
The next round of the WRC is Rallye Deutschland, which starts in only 12 days time. The tenth round in the series is an asphalt rally but is certainly not a conventional sealed-surface event. Based in the city of Trier, the route takes in a wide variety of conditions, from fast and narrow vineyard roads in the Mosel region, to the notoriously rough broken concrete tracks of the Baumholder military ranges. Leg one starts on Friday 17 August.