IN-DEPTH WORK PAYS OFF
45th Rally Finland, from 26 to 29 July
With its focus already shifted to next season, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT's approach was rewarded with second place secured by a Mads Østberg in irresistible form. This third podium of the season, following the second and third places collected in Sweden and Mexico respectively, confirms the very high level of performance of the C3 WRC.
THE STORY OF THE RACE
Having already claimed four overall wins (2008, 2011, 2012 and 2016) here on the ultra-fast Finnish stages, where you need a precise car in which the drivers feel especially confident, Citroën have shown their value many times at this very unusual event. And this year’s rally proved to be no exception to the rule! Starting at the shakedown, where Mads Østberg – convinced he had the best car that he had ever driven on these stages (in thirteen appearances!) – topped the timesheets, followed closely by Craig Breen. It was therefore clear from the outset that the Citroen pair was going to be a force to be reckoned with this weekend. The Norwegian immediately grabbed second place when the real action began on SS2, before then taking the lead on SS4 thanks to his first stage win. With another two stage wins in the afternoon, he held the lead for four stages, before ending the opening leg in second place, just 5.8s behind Tänak, the future winner. In the meantime, Craig Breen had unfortunately picked up a puncture (SS2), which cost him 47.8s and with it, any chance of featuring among the leaders. He was unable to make up the time lost and therefore found himself high up the running order (third on the road for the next two days) on a surface where the grip improves as more cars complete the stages. However, as soon as the conditions were kinder to him, the Irishman grabbed the slightest opportunity to show his pace, as seen in the stage win on SS8 and the time set on the Power Stage (+1.7s over 11.12km), ultimately ending the rally in eighth position. On his second WRC outing of the year after Argentina, Khalid Al Qassimi’s progress was brought to a halt on Saturday morning following a mistake on SS12. He rejoined under Rally 2 rules on Sunday and went on to finish the race. Meanwhile, Mads Østberg picked up on Saturday where he had left off on Friday, holding off the constant attacks of Jari-Matti Latvala, a former three-time winner of the event. He took a 5.4s lead into Sunday’s final leg, despite being undoubtedly hampered by carrying an extra spare tyre in the afternoon loop. When the action resumed on Sunday morning, the 30 year-old Norwegian made his intentions crystal clear to his rivals with another stage win, his fourth of the weekend! He held off Latvala magnificently right to the end to finish as runner-up, his best result at this iconic rally after two third-place finishes (2013 and 2015).
Read the complete press release from the CITROËN MEDIA CENTER: