Hyundai Motorsport holds an early 1-2 in Arctic Rally Finland

Hyundai Motorsport holds an early 1-2 in Arctic Rally Finland

26.02.2021: .. the second round of the 2021 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), after an encouraging start on snowy stages • Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja set the fastest time on both Sarriojärvi stages to establish a 16.2-second lead over team-mates Craig Breen

.. the second round of the 2021 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), after an encouraging start on snowy stages


•    Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja set the fastest time on both Sarriojärvi stages to establish a 16.2-second lead over team-mates Craig Breen and Paul Nagle

•    Thierry Neuville holds fourth place in his second WRC event alongside new co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe, with eight stages remaining over the next two days.


Hyundai Motorsport has made its intentions clear on the opening day of Arctic Rally Finland, the second round of the 2021 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), holding a provisional 1-2 after the first two stages of the event.

Estonians Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja set the early pace to establish a lead of 16.2-seconds over their Irish team-mates Craig Breen and Paul Nagle. In just their second event as a crew, Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe concluded Friday’s running in fourth with eight stages remaining.

Friday’s itinerary might not have appeared too demanding on paper, but it was certainly a challenge, fitting for the championship’s only full-snow event. After an early morning shakedown, held over a 5.69km route at Vennivaara, crews were faced with the daunting prospect of the rally’s longest stage - Sarriojärvi (31.05km) - run twice in the afternoon without the luxury of a midway service.

The second pass was held in dark early evening conditions as a result of typically short daytime hours in northern Finland and the Arctic Circle. Studded Pirelli tyres were put through their paces as crews negotiated high-speed roads and classic winter rally conditions.

Tänak claimed stage win honours on both passes through Sarriojärvi, with an advantage of 3.6s and 9.8s over Breen and Kalle Rovanperä respectively. With a Hyundai Motorsport 1-2 in the opening stage, the scene was set for a closely fought battle, which looks set to continue into Saturday - which will cover 144km over six special stages.

Crew Notes: Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (#8 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

•    Provisional rally leader after an impressive performance on the opening day

•    Two stage wins give the Estonian crew a 16.2-second advantage

Tänak said
: “Let’s say that I’m happy, but it’s very early and there’s no reason to get carried away yet. This has been a rollercoaster kind of day, typical for Finland with very technical and up-and-down roads. It’s been a big job today, for sure, with road position and tyres playing their part.

The car balance is OK but it can always be better so there are things we need to work on. At the moment, we are leading but the road position was different to our rivals so everything can change tomorrow. We need to keep focused and keep pushing.”

Crew Notes: Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (#42 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

•    Irish crew hold second place in their first WRC event of 2021

•    Second place in the opening stage, just 3.6s behind Tänak, secured Hyundai 1-2

Breen said
: “It’s nice to be here with such unique conditions; it’s a special feeling to be in the woods, in the dark, doing 200kph - I definitely enjoyed it! I have had a good starting position, but I honestly don’t think I took the full benefit from that, particularly in the first stage.

In the second run, I tried to push hard - perhaps a bit too much at the start because I suffered towards the end, losing studs in the last three to four kilometres. This is something that comes with time and experience. I know I can jump in the car after six months and be on the pace, but it takes time to refine the small things. Absence certainly makes the heart grow fonder, and it’s nice to have the confidence and security from a full programme.”  

Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (#11 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

•    Starting third on the road, the Belgian crew continued to work on their new partnership

•    Fourth place overall after two stages, 29.8s from the rally lead

Neuville said:
“We’ve had a pretty satisfying start to this brand-new WRC event. Compared to what we saw in the pre-event test, we went quickly through the snow onto the gravel; the grip was higher, as was the tyre wear. I lost the first studs on the shakedown and then a few more this afternoon.

The car was working well in those conditions and we had a good afternoon, making our way to P4 which gives us a good road position for tomorrow. We need to benefit from that and fight with the cars in front of us - and behind. At the same time, I am also continuing to build on my new working relationship with Martijn.”

Team Principal Andrea Adamo said: “I would be lying if I didn’t say I am pleased to be holding first and second positions at the end of this opening day. At the same time, we must not forget we still have eight stages left this weekend.

I have to say that my team - as I kindly asked them - have done a great job in preparing this rally. We are certainly in more representative positions to where I think we should be. The road position helps but we are only there because we had a poor performance in Monte-Carlo, so that’s nothing to make us proud. We are making the best out of what we have, and in this moment, we are doing it well.”

Saturday at a glance

•    The longest day of Arctic Rally Finland will see competitors tackle six stages over a total competitive distance of 144.04km

•    A repeated loop of three timed tests, Mustalampi (24.43km), Kaihuavaara (19.91km) and Siikakämä (27.68km) will be split by a thirty minute flexi-service.

Classification after Day One

1    O. Tänak    M. Järveoja    Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC    31:50.7
2    C. Breen     P. Nagle    Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC    +16.2
3    K. Rovanperä    J. Halttunen    Toyota Yaris WRC    +20.4
4    T. Neuville    M. Wydaeghe    Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC    +29.8
5    E. Evans    S. Martin    Toyota Yaris WRC    +32.0
6    T. Suninen    M. Markkula    Ford Fiesta WRC    +34.5
7    T. Katsuta    D. Barritt    Toyota Yaris WRC    +38.8
8    O. Solberg    S. Marshall    Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC    +45.9
9    S. Ogier    J. Ingrassia    Toyota Yaris WRC    +49.8
10    G. Greensmith    E. Edmondson    Ford Fiesta WRC    +1:05.8

Thomas Villette,Nicoletta Russo-


26.02.2021 / MaP

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