Ott Tanak completed a dominant Rally Finland victory for Toyota with a calm run to the finish, while Thierry Neuville limited the damage to his World Rally Championship lead.
After a spectacular lead battle with the resurgent Citroen of Mads Ostberg through Friday, Tanak broke away with a crushing string of stage wins on Saturday morning and then protected his advantage to win by 32.7 seconds. He ensured a maximum 30-point score by winning the powerstage too.
Ostberg came under increasing pressure from Tanak’s team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala in the second half of the event and looked unlikely to hold second place as he grappled with high tyre wear.
But a strong powerstage run earned second for Ostberg, his first WRC podium since March 2016, by just 2.8s over Latvala.
Title rivals Sebastien Ogier and Neuville had largely miserable weekends.
Ogier made constant set-up changes to try to get the best from the little-tested new aero package on his M-Sport Ford. He ended up fifth when team-mate Teemu Suninen picked up a deliberate penalty for an early check-in on the final morning, and had also been helped by Elfyn Evans slowing on Friday to give him a position and a better day two running order spot.
Suninen and Evans then finished sixth and seventh behind their team leader.
Neuville struggled with running first on the road on Friday and made life harder for himself by spinning, clipping a tree and sustaining damage.
He finished a very distant ninth but did pick up two points from the powerstage – where Ogier didn’t score – so his championship cushion remains 21 points.
With Neuville off the pace and Andreas Mikkelsen only 10th after a Friday crash, Hayden Paddon upheld Hyundai honour with a strong run to fourth.
Craig Breen couldn’t join Citroen team-mate Ostberg in the victory battle as a Friday morning puncture limited him to eighth.
Last year’s shock Finland winner Esapekka Lappi was also delayed early when his Toyota stalled on the first full-length stage. He recovered to fourth only to crash out on the final morning.
Eerik Pietarinen won WRC2 in 11th overall for Toni Gardemeister’s TGS Worldwide team after Saturday damage left the initially dominant Kalle Rovanpera down in fourth.
|1||Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT||Toyota||2h35m18.1s|
|2||Mads Ostberg, T.Eriksen||Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT||Citroen||32.7s|
|3||Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT||Toyota||35.5s|
|4||Hayden Paddon, S.Marshall||Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT||Hyundai||1m35.6s|
|5||Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia||M-Sport Ford WRT||Ford||2m15.0s|
|6||Teemu Suninen, M.Markkula||M-Sport Ford WRT||Ford||2m19.2s|
|7||Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt||M-Sport Ford WRT||Ford||2m29.5s|
|8||Craig Breen, S.Martin||Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT||Citroen||3m08.4s|
|9||Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul||Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT||Hyundai||3m51.8s|
|10||Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager||Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT||Hyundai||8m37.4s|