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ESTONIA’S KEN TORN WINS AT RALLY FINLAND

This year’s FIA Junior World Rally Championship has delivered epic battle after epic battle and Neste Rally Finland was to be no different – Estonia’s Ken Torn securing his maiden victory after an intense fight with Sweden’s Emil Bergkvist.

Torn took the lead on Thursday’s opening super special, but as the action hit the forests it was Bergkvist who claimed the advantage – holding the lead for most of Friday before picking up a puncture and dropping 20 seconds behind his rival.

The Swede started Saturday intent on closing the gap, but Torn had other ideas and wasn’t about to deny a double victory for his homeland – especially not with the thousands of Estonians who had made the journey across the Gulf of Finland to spectate.

Setting a string of fastest times, Torn keep Bergkvist at bay. Then, on the penultimate stage of Saturday afternoon (SS18), the Estonian picked up a puncture and his lead was halved.

Sensing an increased chance of victory, Bergkvist pushed hard through the closing stages, but so did Torn – securing the win by 9.9 seconds.

Jean-Baptiste Franceschi rounded off the top-three on his Rally Finland debut. Not putting a foot wrong, the Frenchman put everything he learned during last week’s AutoGlym Ralli into practice to claim his second podium of the year.

With championship-leader Dennis Rådström failing to finish the event, the championship has also been turned on its head – Bergkvist leading the way ahead of Rådström and Franceschi with Torn not far behind.

The final round takes place at Rally Turkey next month and, with double points on offer, a thrilling finale awaits!

Ken Torn (1st) said:

“This result is awesome! My first time here with these fantastic roads – and such a tight battle with Emil – I very much enjoyed it.”

Emil Bergkvist (2nd) said:

“To be honest at the beginning I was a little disappointed, but now I am quite happy with the result. We had a great fight with Ken and I took a lot of stage wins so I am happy for that. I am leading the championship which I am very happy about and I am really looking forward to Turkey – where it will be very important to finish”

Jean-Baptiste Franceschi (3rd) said:

“To finish third is a very good feeling. It’s my first time in Finland and everybody knows how difficult this event is. We got a podium finish which was the perfect result for us.”

FIA Junior World Rally Championship Manager, Maciej Woda, said:

“With 15 cars starting Rally Finland this was the most we have seen all season and we’ve witnessed another epic battle for the win that went down to the closing kilometres. Congratulations to Ken for the victory, and also to Emil whose second place sees him take the lead of the championship.

“The competition has been really strong and we’ve seen the midfield pace improve significantly. It was a shame to lose Dennis and Henri from the fight, but I have to say that the championship looks very interesting ahead of the final round. It really is wide open, and I’m looking forward to seeing who comes away with the title.”

 

ELSEWHERE IN THE FIELD: CREW BY CREW

Julius Tannert (4th):

Another clean, tidy and composed drive behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta R2 saw Germany’s Julius Tannert equal the fourth place finish he secured at last year’s Rally Finland.

“We have had a tough three days but I am happy with the result – fourth place again. We wanted to fight for the podium, but I’m still happy. We made no mistakes and gained a lot of experience.”

Callum Devine (5th):

Callum Devine picked up a puncture through the second pass of Ässämäki (SS9). The time loss saw the Irishman fall behind Tannert, but he kept his nose clean thereafter to secure a strong top-five finish.

“It was a great rally, but also a very tough rally. We really enjoyed it and are happy to come away with fifth. There was a great atmosphere and the spectators are always crazy.”

Tom Williams (6th):

An error-free drive through some of the most famous rally stages in the world rewarded Tom Williams with a career-best sixth place overall.

“This was definitely the best rally I have done this year – everything just clicked and the pacenotes flowed really well.”

Bugra Banaz (7th):

Experiencing the Rally Finland stages for the very first time this weekend, Bugra Banaz didn’t put a foot wrong – bringing his Fiesta home in a creditable seventh place overall.

“We finished in seventh position which is good for us as we gain some points. It was my first time here so my pacenotes were not perfect, but we adjusted them which helped us finish in seventh position.”

Enrico Oldrati (8th):

Using the knowledge gained at last week’s AutoGlym Ralli to full effect, Enrico Oldrati delivered an error-free drive on what is only the sixth rally of his entire career – bringing his Fiesta home in a fine eighth place.

“I gained a lot of experience which is important for us and we will think how we can improve for Rally Turkey.”

David Holder (9th):

David Holder was on course to secure a top six finish at this weekend’s Rally Finland before suffering from one too many punctures and not enough spares on SS17. Returning under Rally 2 regulations for the final day of competition, the New Zealander recovered ninth place.

“This rally is pretty special and the roads are really fast and difficult to drive without crashing! All these events are cool, but this one especially. We were driving along in the middle of nowhere and there was this 60-year-old lady throwing her hands and waving by herself – it was amazing, and they are so passionate about rallying here.”

Umberto Accornero (10th):

Umberto Accornero retired with a broken alternator on Saturday’s final road section. He returned to action under Rally 2 regulations today and secured a top-ten finish.

“It was an okay rally for us. On Saturday we were happy with our times, but today we had a puncture early in the morning which destroyed our day. But we managed to complete the stages.”

Luca Bottarelli (11th):

Luca Bottarelli had been on course to secure a strong haul of points in sixth place – that was until SS15 when the Italian rolled his Fiesta. Returning under Rally 2 regulations, he recovered eleventh place overall.

“It wasn’t a good result for us this weekend, but it was a good experience.”

Terry Folb (12th):

Terry Folb could well be the unluckiest man in rallying. The Frenchman was in podium position before picking up a puncture and falling behind Franceschi on (SS12). But the worst was yet to come – his Fiesta cutting out on the very next speed test (SS13) and forcing him to retire for the day.

“My pace was fine, and it was a good experience. We took a lot of pleasure on Friday and Sunday and enjoyed the stages on one of the best rallies of the year. This rally definitely has the best atmosphere with a lot of people.”

Emilio Fernández (13th):

Emilio Fernández rolled his Fiesta through the first pass of Ässämäki on Friday morning (SS4). The damage proved too severe to finish the day, but he drove the car back to service and restarted under Rally 2 regulations on Saturday morning.

“It was a very nice event, even if we did have some problems. We are here at the finish line and we are both very happy. The last stage was very fast, and the jump was crazy, we did it flat out and we enjoyed it a lot!”

Dennis Rådström (DNF):

Rådström retired from the event on Friday morning when his Ford Fiesta R2 went backwards into the trees. The high-speed impact caused too much damage to repair and the Swede was unable to continue – falling from the head of the championship standings as a result.

“It was a driver mistake. I carried too much speed into a corner which caused us to lose the grip and hit a tree with the rear of the car. It was a really hard hit and we had to retire. As for the championship, it’s certainly not over yet! We’re disappointed right now, but we’ll come back stronger in Turkey!”

Henri Hokkala (DNF):

This year’s AKK Future Star of Finland showcased some impressive speed through the opening stages of the year’s Rally Finland. Making his debut on the world stage, Hokkala was running in second position and set two fastest times (on SS5 and SS6) before rolling out of the event some seven kilometres into the second pass of Moksi (SS7).

“It was a normal long-right-hander, but there was a deep rut on the inside of the corner. It bottomed the car, we spun, and rolled into the trees. It’s really disappointing and unfortunately there was too much damage to continue – but it was still a really nice experience and nice to set two fastest stage times.”

 

RALLY FINLAND CLASSIFICATION:

1. Ken Torn / Kuldar Sikk 3:03:07.2
2. Emil Bergkvist / Joakim Sjöberg +9.9
3. Jean-Baptiste Franceschi / Romain Courbon +1:46.2
4. Julius Tannert / Jürgen Heigl +4:08.1
5. Callum Devine / Brian Hoy +6:06.9
6. Tom Williams / Phil Hall +10:05.2
7. Bugra Banaz / Burak Erdener +11:42.7
8. Enrico Oldrati / Danilo Fappani +17:28.7
9. David Holder / Jason Farmer +22:17.3
10. Umberto Accornero / Barone Maurizio +26:43.6
11. Luca Bottarelli / Manuel Fenoli +40:10.6
12. Terry Folb / Kevin Bronner +50:17.4
13. Emilio Fernández / Joaquin Riquelme +1:25:47.4

 

RALLY FINLAND STAGE WINS:

Emil Bergkvist - 12
Ken Torn - 9
Henri Hokkala - 2

 

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

1. Emil Bergkvist - 88
2. Dennis Rådström - 74
3. Jean-Baptiste Franceschi - 62
4. Ken Torn - 49
5. Julius Tannert - 31
6. Terry Folb - 30
7. Callum Devine - 28
8. Bugra Banaz - 22
9. Enrico Oldrati - 22
10. Luca Bottarelli - 20
11. David Holder - 19
12. Tom Williams - 15
13. Emilio Fernández - 8
14. Umberto Accornero - 5
15. Henri Hokkala - 2