We have finished another successful rally here in Finland, 8th overall and collecting another 4 world championship points – but it didn’t go without it’s challenges.
Following our progression from Sardegna to Poland, here we wanted to step things up another notch and get closer to both the leaders and our team mates. Following recce, John and I were very confident in our pacenotes we had written, which combined with the best road conditions we have seen before meant it was going to be a fast rally.
Thursday evening did not start so well for us when we lost 20 seconds on the first stage, due to getting caught in a massive rainstorm. The rain was bouncing off the road 30cm high and visibility was almost zero. However, we recovered over the next 2 stages to set ourselves up for the next day.
Friday was a great day. On the new stages we found a good rhythm and the car was working well. We opened the day with two top 4 stage times and then for the rest of the day matched our local team mate, Juho Hanninen. It was also pleasing to set some good times on the repeated afternoon loop, which in the past is when we have generally lost more time.
Saturday was a better day however, as following some data analysis overnight and discussions with my engineer Clemount, I tried to adapt a slightly different driving style. Despite 2 and a half spins in the morning, we maintained our 30 second lead to our team mate and in the afternoon set another two top 5 stage times – less than 0.75 sec per km from the leaders.
Going into today in 6th overall, it was going to be a matter of just cruising through the final 3 stages. As fate would have it, it was not this simple. Unfortunately, on the way to the first stage, the powersteering failed and despite our best efforts to try and fix, we had to continue with no powersteering. Trust me, driving a modern day WRC car is not like driving an old classic car with no powersteering. It would be more comparable to wrestling a bull. Immediately we knew we would not hold off 7th or 8th with the problem, so we decided to take it easy and bring the car home rather than throwing an uncontrollable car off the road for trying to limit the damage.
All in all we are very happy with the weekend and I have felt I have made a big step forward with my driving. More pleasing, we know there is much more to come and now that we are heading down a new track of both driving and car setup. I feel confident we can improve even further for our next event, Rally Australia.
A big thanks to the team who are working tirelessly behind the scenes and all our NZ partners and supporters. We are getting closer to the top and we will not stop working hard until we get there.
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