Jyväskylä (Finland) (AFP)
Belgium's Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) won the first stage of the Rally Finland on Thursday night in front of Toyota's Estonian Ött Tänak and Briton Kris Meeke, but the event, the 9th in the WRC 2019 championship, will be back on Friday. .
The Frenchman Sébastien Ogier (Citroën) came fourth in this very short stage (2.31 km) on mixed asphalt / clay and was a warm up for the event that will run until Sunday.
The three drivers who are leading the championship in a handkerchief (Tänak 150 points, Ogier 146 and Neuville 143) have taken control from the start, Meeke coming to play spoilsports.
"I would like to bring a win in Finland to Hyundai," said Neuville after his best time. The South Korean brand, currently leading the constructors' championship, has never won the legendary event played in the country of the Thousand Lakes.
The Toyota start their favorites after their victories in 2017 (Esapekka Lappi) and 2018 (Tänak), especially since the Japanese rally team is permanently settled in Finland and his boss Tommi Mäkinen is not only Finnish but has won the test five times between 1994 and 1998.
"Tomorrow (Friday), things will be difficult," warned Ött Tänak. He must open the road, "privilege" reserved for the driver at the head of the provisional classification of the world championship but exposing him to discover all the pitfalls before his opponents.
"I will give everything I have, it will be a very intense battle," said Sébastien Ogier, six-time world champion WRC. The French driver also confirmed Thursday that he would stop the rally at the highest level at the end of the 2020 season.
© 2019 AFP