The first ten of those victories were secured by the ŠKODA Motorsport works team, but last time out in Poland it was the Printsport Oy car of Ole Christian Veiby who took the win. And this rally proved to be their second successive victory as their prodigious young driver Jari Huttunen, alongside co-driver Antti Linnaketo, took the win by a margin of 2 minutes and 17 seconds.

12 wins of ŠKODA FABIA R5 in WRC2 in a row

It is hard to overemphasise what a huge achievement the result is for the 23-year-old who was competing not only in his first ever WRC2 event but also only in his second rally in a four-wheel drive car (the first being the AutoGlym Ralli in preparation for this event).

It was not all plain sailing for Huttunen though. After the opening special stage of this rally, he was only twelfth in the WRC2 standings, albeit only 2.8 seconds behind the leader.

Jari Huttunen / Antti Linnaketo, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Printsport Oy. Rally Finland 2017

Victory on SS3 on Friday morning took him to the top of the leaderboard and he then went on to win nine of the twelve special stages overall to end the day 56.2 seconds clear. This was despite a big scare during the day when he drifted into a field and damaged the rear of his car. But despite this, he still went on to win that stage. His fine form continued on the Saturday as he won five of the eight stages contested and barring one spin had no problems, as he extended his lead to a comfortable 2 minutes and 6 seconds. Two more stage wins in the final four stages on Sunday saw that lead slightly extended and victory comfortably assured.

Jari Huttunen

In second place behind Huttunen was the FABIA R5 of Frenchman Quentin Gilbert and his Belgian co-driver Renaud Jamoul. They enjoyed a mixed start in their car prepared and run by Tagai Racing Technology team.

Quentin Gilbert / Renaud Jamoul, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Tagai Racing Technology. Rally Finland 2017

After finishing third in the WRC2 standings after the opening stage, they slipped to the sixth after stage 3 before recovering to second by the end of the day. They then drove with consistency for the following two days to maintain that position and were never really threatened from behind, ending up 1 minute and 25 seconds ahead of the car in third place.

Quentin Gilbert

There was actually a FABIA R5 which finished ahead of Gilbert in the overall standings, but the Hannu's Rally Team car of Teemu Asunmaa / Jonne Halttunen, which ended up third in the RC2 class standings, was not entered into the WRC2 championship.

Teemu Asunmaa / Jonne Halttunen, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Hannu's Rally Team. Rally Finland 2017

Asunmaa, who is the current leader of the Finnish Rally Championship, ended the opening leg fourth in the RC2 standings, but moved up to third on Saturday morning and - like Gilbert - drove with assurance and consistency from then on to retain the position.

The next highest finishing FABIA R5 was the Sports Racing Technologies car of experienced Estonians Raul Jeets / Kuldar Sikk. Despite his experience, this was just Jeet’s second ever WRC2 rally and his sixth place in the WRC2 standings was both his first finish and the first points he has scored.

Jari Huttunen was not the only former Future Star of Finland Award winner competing, but Juuso Nordgren / Mikael Korhonen enjoyed less good fortune in their FABIA R5 which was prepared and run by TGS Worldwide OU. Nordgren made a good start and sat in third place in the WRC2 standings after stage 3. But a damaged wheel on stage 4 saw him lose more than 2 minutes and fall back to twelfth position. The following day saw more of the same as two punctures on stage 16 forced his retirement as he only had one spare available.

Juuso Nordgren / Mikael Korhonen, ŠKODA FABIA R5, TGS Worldwide OU. Rally Finland 2017

Returning on the final day under Rally2 rules, Nordgren then incurred a 10-second penalty for a jump start on the penultimate stage, but still managed to finish ninth in the WRC2 standings and claim four stage victories along the way.

A mention too must go to Ole Christian Veiby / Stig Rune Skjærmoen. The winners of the last round of the WRC2 championship in Poland were not registered for WRC2 points in Finland but still led the way in the RC2 class until they rolled on SS15 and were unable to restart on the Sunday morning.

Ole Christian Veiby / Stig Rune Skjærmoen, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Printsport Oy. Rally Finland 2017
Ole Christian Veiby

Of the other FABIA R5s competing, Kees Burger / Mikko Lukka finished eleventh in the RC2 standings, one place ahead of Ari Saxberg / Pekka Leppälä. The S.A. Motorsport Italia Srl FABIA R5 of Umberto Scandola / Michele Ferrara won the opening stage in the WRC2 standings but was forced to retire on stage 15 before returning to finish tenth in the WRC2 standings and seventeenth in the RC2 class. And Lars Stugemo / Kalle Lexe also managed to finish the rally in eighteenth in the RC2 class.

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