After successful Neste Rally Finland I got positive feeling to go to Germany and tarmac event. In the beginning of the rally I didn’t feel too confident with the car and driving was too unconsistent, but it got better towards the evening.
In the second day of the rally we were driving at the legendary Baumholder military area. Dani Sordo was the fastest there by winning three out of four stages. I wasn’t able to drive good enough there but faster field rounded roads suits me better. We had really tight fight with Dani for the second place. Ott Tänak was too far before us. After saturday I was 0,8 seconds behind Dani.
Sunday morning was about to culminate for fight between Dani and Me. At the road section my car’s hydraulic pump failed. That left central differential open and I need to use mechanical gear shift. Car was hard to drive and this strained car a lot and that’s why gearbox broke down one kilometre before the first stage end. Also Dani Sordo went off on that stage. End results were Tänak, Thierry Neuville and Esapekka Lappi.
I felt pressure more than ever before the rally. I got five bad rallies in a row before Rally Finland and I had to stop that trend. Pressure affected me in the first proper stage, Moksi, on friday morning. I was 9,4 seconds behind Ott Tänak in the stage that I like the most in the rally. After this stage I was able to find the good rhythm for the three next stages. After the midday service I lost my pace again at Oittila. I lost 10 seconds there. Again after this one poor stage time I was able to find the right mood and after the friday we hold 3rd position overall.
On saturday morning I decide to try to catch Ott Tänak and Mads Östberg. After first saturday morning stages I realized that Ott Tänak has done superb job and without his problems I am not able to catch him. I made small setup changes in the midday service. After this I was more confident with the car and I felt more relaxed. I was able to narrow the gap between me and Mads, and after saturday I was 5,4 seconds behind him.
On Sunday there were two stages driven twice, Laukaa and Ruuhimäki. I was at maximum attack -mode for the whole loop. I didn’t even break to any jumps, but still it wasn’t enough. Rally ended to the 3rd place 2,8 seconds behind Mads Östberg, who drove one of the his best rallies.
Tänak won, Östberg second and I was third. This result took out of the pressures from my shoulders.
I had a nice opportunity to take a part Pohjanmaa-Ralli with Juho Hänninen and Toyota Celica. We had some problems with Celica in the previous rallies. We were working hard to solve these issues and change the parts.
In the first stage there were some challenges to find the right rhythm, because we had tested Toyota Yaris WRC for few days before this event. After I got feeling to 30 year older car on the second stage I find the rhythm and Juho read pacenotes like he has been co-driving for ages.
In the afternoon I tried to raise the speed but hot weather caused some lack of power so I wasn’t able to go any faster when the same stages were driven for the second time. We were able to reach the finnish and took the victory in Historic group and 10th place in general overall results.
Our tactic for this rally was to save the car and tires because our latest successful event was Rally Monte Carlo in January.
Driving wasn’t too consistent but we didn’t made any mistakes. With this setup we were at third after friday.
On saturday we decided to try to ensure our position because Thierry Neuville and Sebastien Ogier were driving too fast for our risk level. Our team mate Esapekka Lappi was in the fourth place, not too far from us, so we weren’t able to play too safety. We had good competition with EP until the last special stage of saturday. Recharger from our Yaris stopped working. We tried all that we can to go to service, but liaison distance from the stage end was more than 100 kilometres, but we had to retire when battery charge ended.
We got 14 minutes time penalty, but we were able to participate on sunday, again under Rally 2. I was able to achieve seventh place. In the Power Stage I tried to got some points, but I stalled the engine in the hairpin and that’s why we lost those points.
Thierry Neuville won Sebastien Ogier only by 0,7 seconds and EP Lappi was third.
Latest rally in Argentina was ended far too early because of suspension breakage and that’s why our expectations were high for this event. Especially because we had won this rally in 2015.
In the first pass of super special stage I stalled the engine at the star, so start for the rally wasn’t too good. The first proper special stage on the friday morning was more or less getting touch for the driving and I decided to attack in special stage 2. First 5 kilometres went nicely, but then in one almost full speed right hander I cut and hit the rock. That broke right front suspension and we had to retire.
Luckily we were able to go on under Rally 2 regulation. That gave us a bit better feeling and confidence. We got couple fastest stage times but still we didn’t got any points, which was frustrating.