Belfast Telegraph

Terrific Tanak wins again as Meeke's rally woes continue

 

Team player: Craig Breen played his part for Hyundai
Team player: Craig Breen played his part for Hyundai

By Sammy Hamill

Ott Tanak produced another stunning performance to win Rally Finland for a second year in a row and increase his lead to 22 points at the top of the World Championship.

But his Toyota team-mate Kris Meeke's run of disasters continued, the Dungannon driver crashing out on the penultimate stage yesterday having already wrecked the rear suspension of his Yaris when he hit a rock during the Saturday leg.

In contrast Craig Breen did a solid job on his recall to the WRC series with Hyundai, consistently close to the front and sacrificing his sixth place with a 20-second road penalty to allow team-mate Thierry Neuville to move up and gain extra points.

Dropped by Citroen at the end of last season, Breen has kept himself busy, competing - and winning - in Italy, Belgium and at home in Ireland where he leads the Irish Tarmac Championship. But always the aim was to get back to the WRC and the chance came with his call up by Hyundai for what was initially a one-off appearance in Finland. And he and co-driver Paul Nagle, also axed by Citroen, did everything asked of them.

"It's pretty amazing," he said. "I was in an extremely dark place for a few months last year and people have come to the rescue - they know who they are. It's nice to be back at this level again."

Tanak won for the fourth time this season, finishing almost half-a-minute ahead of the Citroen of Esapekka Lappi with the second Toyota of Jari Matti Latvala third ahead of Hyundai's Andreas Mikkelsen and Citroen's World champion Sebastien Ogier.

But Meeke was left to rue another missed opportunity. The 2016 Finland winner was right in the thick of the battle with Tanak, Matti Latvala and Lappi for victory, the four of them trading 10ths of a second per stage.

But he ran slightly wide on a corner on the 14th stage, striking a rock and tearing a rear wheel off his Toyota. Latvala also hit the same rock but suffered just a puncture. Meeke returned under Rally2 rules yesterday only to crash out one stage from the end.

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