Hänninen of Red Bull ŠKODA team second after Day 1 of Finland Rally
About 270 km north of Finland’s capital Helsinki, the university city of Jyväskylä has again become the Mecca of motorsport in late July. Much like every year, tens of thousands of people are coming to Jyväskylä to see one of the most dynamic rallies of the World Championship calendar. The Finland Rally is known for high speed averages that often get over 120 km/h, endless jumps, as well as a mix of fast bends and straight roads flanked by dense trees – good enough reasons why this gravel rally should offer many dramatic moments to keep the fans on the boil. The Red Bull ŠKODA team has two crews in the game – Hänninen & Markkula are second after Day 1, Gassner & Wüstenhagen are sixth.
Thursday’s programme offered the first three stages (40 competition kilometres), and the fastest man in the SWRC category (Super 2000 vehicles) was Ott Tänak in a Ford. Juho Hänninen in a Fabia beat him in Stage 3 and is second so far, only 8.5 seconds behind him. Hermann Gassner, another driver of the Red Bull ŠKODA team, is sixth (-1:12 min).
Juho Hänninen has won his “home” rally twice and wishes to complete a hat-trick this year. However, he realises how difficult it is going to be: “What I expected is actually happening – Tänak is incredibly fast, and it will really be enormously difficult for me, although I am on my home ground and know the tracks well.”
Making a debut in Finland, Hermann Gassner says he has to get used to the local conditions first: “The speeds here are sometimes crazy. We are getting used to the local conditions and doing our best to get valuable experience”.
The Finland Rally continues on Friday with eight stages (135 kilometres). The teams are moving 170 km southwards, to the surroundings of Lahti.