Tanak and his co-driver Martin Jarveoja produced one of the best records of their WRC careers to tame a not-the-best car in the championship Hyundai i20 N to beat Rovanpera on home soil by 6.8 seconds after an intense duel.

The 2019 world champion took the lead in Stage 2 on Friday, and from there the Estonian was on maximum attack, delivering a series of stunning lap times to fend off a trio of Toyotas competing on the ground of the WRC team.

Esapekka Lappi led those chasing Tanak by closing within 3.8 seconds of Tanak on Friday night. However, on Saturday Tanak came under heavy pressure from a loaded Rovanpera, which opened the roads on Friday.

The Finn took advantage of his own luck by suffering two big moments at times while trying to bring Tanak back. The 21-year-old made the most of the tricky wet conditions to spark his surge up the rankings from fourth to second place. Five stage wins helped the Totyota driver close 8.3 seconds ahead of Sunday’s final four stages.

However, Tanak continued to attack, extending his lead over Rovanpera before sharing a stage win for the second time in the event. Tanak then kept his cool in the remaining two stages to deprive the Finn of a home win, while Rovanpera claimed the five bonus points on the powerstage to extend their championship lead to 94 points.

The victory is the second of the season for Tanak and Hyundai after a triumph in Sardinia in June. It is also the Estonian’s third Rally Finland victory alongside success in 2018 and 2019, joining Jari-Matti Latvala (2010, 2014 2015), Sébastien Loeb (2008, 2011, 2012), Juha Kankkunen (1991, 1993, 1999), Simo Lampinen (1963, 1964, 1972), Osmo Kalpala (1954, 1956 1958) as three-time event winners.

Kalle Rovanpera, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Toyota Racing

Lappi somehow managed to secure the final podium spot despite his GR Yaris rolling on the penultimate stage. The Finn crashed into a ditch on a left-hand bend, causing his car to roll three times, damaging the rear wing, windscreen and radiator.

Lappi was able to recover and lost just 18 seconds maintaining his third position, before stopping near a nearby lake to fetch water in an attempt to fill and seal the leaking radiator. This incident follows a freak moment on Saturday that effectively ended his hopes of victory when a rock cracked his windshield, severely restricting visibility.

Toyota’s Elfyn Evans drove home his GR Yaris in fourth after struggling to keep pace with the leaders for the rally match. Left rear suspension issues put him out of contention for a podium finish on Saturday.

Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville avoided trouble but couldn’t find the confidence to push his unpredictable i20 N, and finished the rally 2m18.0s behind in fifth. Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta continued his run finishing each event in the points in sixth, while Gus Greensmith led M-Sport’s charge in seventh.

M-Sport team boss Craig Breen was among the frontrunners until Saturday when he ripped the right rear off his car after hitting a grass embankment. The Irishman returned on Sunday.

Team mates Adrien Fourmaux and Rally1 rookie Jari Huttunen both made it to the finish but outside the top 10. Fourmaux lost ground after hitting like a rock on Friday before a power steering problem got him costs more time.

Huttunen impressed to hold eighth place on Friday but a fuel pressure issue knocked him out of the Top 10. The Finn would finish in 11th place.

Oliver Solberg (Hyundai) was the only one to retire in Rally1 after crashing into the first corner of Friday’s opening stage.

In WRC2, Teemu Suninen won on home compatriot Emil Lindholm in 7”7.

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