Everything according to predictions – including more difficulties due to rain; usual performance and reliability and nothing else to report, except photocopied tyre strategies from the drivers, with the sole exception of Teemu Suninen on Sunday morning. Rally Finland 2023 told from the point of view of the tyres is all here. But if the Pirelli Scorpion soft tyres gave, as usual, peace of mind, the general trend of the race was a little different, which, especially on Friday, experienced exciting and decisive phases.
The Finnish race on the first day was a succession of accidents and unforeseen incidents that halved the group of Rally1 drivers and eliminated some of those who on the eve of the race seemed to be the main contenders for the crown of the so-called Finnish GP: in succession Ott Tanak, Esapekka Lappi and Kalle Rovanpera, as well as Pierre-Louis Loubet, who later returned to the race. In the end, it went to Elfyn Evans in a Toyota, protagonist on Saturday of seven victories out of eight special stages, who was chased by Thierry Neuville in a Hyundai and with the others far behind fighting for third place.
Making Rally Finland even more challenging than usual was intermittent but intense rain. The rainfall often created puddles and ruts on numerous passages, making the fast roads around Jyvaskyla more unpredictable and risky. As was easily predicted on the eve of the race, the only tyres used were the soft ones, which even in the most difficult sections and in the pouring rain did what was asked of them: ensuring grip on the often less compact and dirtier than usual surfaces and resisting the blows of the long and frequent jumps. The confidence with the Scorpions induced all the drivers to always go out with a spare, with the sole exception of Suninen who on Sunday morning went in pursuit of third place by renouncing his spare tyre.
The average and top speeds were remarkable, with Rovanpera winning the fastest stage of the race (SS3 Lankamaa 1) at an average speed of 143 kilometres per hour.
Terenzio Testoni, Pirelli Rally activity manager: “The Scorpion soft tyres once again guaranteed not only grip and performance, but also great durability, cancelling out any possibility of strategies and diversification of choices by the teams. This is why we are working with the FIA and WRC Promoter to make the use of a set of option tyres, hard or soft, mandatory for every rally. We think that in this way the races can become livelier and more interesting, raising the level of challenge for drivers and teams. In Greece the hard gravel tyres will return, also generally the only tyres used when they are first, to face totally different difficulties from those we have seen in the last three races of the championship”.
In the battle for victory of Rally2 cars, Oliver Solberg came out on top in an intense duel with Sam Pajari. Once again, the Scorpions in the version developed for Rally 2 cars (the K6B) left the drivers to concentrate solely on driving, with tyre strategies in line with those adopted by the teams for Rally 1.
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