Feature image: Red Bull
In the winter wonderland of Finland, the World Rally Championship took a trip to the Arctic Circle for the first time in its forty-nine-year history. The 2019 champion, Ott Tänak, thrived in these conditions and kept the rest of the field behind him as he drove comfortably to a 17.5sec victory.
The Estonian’s only bit of trouble came on Saturday, where a brush with a snowbank almost beached him. Asides from that, he was glad to take the win and start his 2021 title push, stating, ‘The pressure was there, and we knew it was going to be very complicated to take the fight.”
At his home Rally, Kalle Rovanperä took the best result of his career in second place, managing to keep Thierry Neuville at bay on Sunday. At 20 years old, the Fin became the youngest ever driver the lead the championship after taking fourth in Monte-Carlo last month.
The reigning World Champion, Sebastian Ogier, had a weekend to forget after getting his Toyota Yaris caught in a snowbank less than 50 metres from the finish on Saturday. The team decided to retire the car for the day and the Frenchman finished tenth in class for the weekend.
Oliver Solberg, son of the 2003 WRC Champion Petter Solberg, made his WRC debut with Hyundai and managed his tyres excellently to take seventh position. The 19-year-old came into this weekend with a lot of confidence after taking third at the Arctic Lapland Rally in January.
Before the event, Hyundai’s team principal Andrea Adamo was excited to see what the young swede could do, saying, ‘”We are keen to see his performance level, of course, but there is no pressure on his shoulders in his debut WRC event. He has to enjoy the rally and take all the experience possible.”
The World Rally Championship returns in April when the drivers take to the tarmac of Croatia. Kalle Rovanperä will be hoping to keep his championship lead but with Ott Tänak taking the win here in Finland, he’ll be hoping to replicate his 2019 championship winning season with a title push.