Loeb leads in Finland while Atkinson keeps within striking distance
Eight-time World Champion Sebastien Loeb leads Rally Finland after a short opening to the event with three special stages around Lahti.
The Citroen star is 7.3-seconds ahead of Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala who are tied on time in equal second place.
“I feel well in the car at the moment and I tried really hard,” said Loeb.
“I know I can fight for the victory, the feeling was good and I took the opportunity to go flat out. But there are a lot of Finnish drivers wanting the victory as well so I will try my best.”
Australia’s Chris Atkinson, driving a Citroen DS3 WRC for the first time, was satisfied with his pace on his first start in Finland since 2008 and only his second WRC appearance of the 2012 season. He is seventh overall and is just 15.6 seconds off the lead with a full day of stages ahead on Friday.
Of the other Australasian drivers competing at Rally Finland Brendan Reeves sits third in the WRC Academy field in the one-make Ford Fiesta R2 category, Molly Taylor is fourth in her class in a two-wheel drive Citroen and Kiwi Hayden Padden is second in the Super 2000 category in a Skoda.
Friday’s action in Finland includes nine stages covering 133.82km.
Rally Finland after SS3
|1||Sebastien Loeb||Citroen WRT||15:07.1|
|2||Jari-Matti Latvala||Ford WRT||+0:07.3|
|3||Mikko Hirvonen||Citroen WRT||+0:07.3|
|4||Mads Ostberg||Adapta Ford||+0:07.5|
|5||Thierry Neuville||Citroen Junior||+0:09.0|
|6||Petter Solberg||Ford WRT||+0:09.2|
|7||Chris Atkinson||Qatar Citroen||+0:15.6|
|8||Evgeny Novikov||M-Sport Ford||+0:18.2|
|9||Ott Tanak||M-Sport Ford||+0:21.1|
|10||Jari Ketomaa||Autotek Ford||+0:33.1|