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WRC Finland: Tanak extends lead over Lappi, Ogier currently fifth

Tanak Toyota WRC Finland 2019

World Rally Championship points leader Ott Tanak will take a 16.4 second advantage into the final day of Rally Finland after edging away in the Saturday afternoon loop.

Tanak took just one stage win after service but extended his lead over Esapekka Lappi over the remaining stages to move to within touching distance of a second consecutive victory in Finland.

Lappi is now in a comfortable second place behind Tanak following two stage wins, on the second passes of Pihlajakoski and Kakaristo.

The Citroen driver, in his best showing of the year so far, gapped Jari-Matti Latvala - who suffered a left-rear puncture in the morning - by 6.4s on SS16 and then a further 5.6s on SS18 to build a gap of 12.4s heading into Sunday.

Latvala admitted he backed off in his pursuit of Lappi as he was keen to avoid a repeat of his morning misfortune and instead concentrated on securing points for Toyota's manufacturers' title ambitions.

"I cannot afford to make any mistakes now and I need to bring the car home for the manufacturers' title," Latvala said.

His decision follow's Toyota Gazoo Racing team principal Tommi Makinen criticising both Latvala and his team-mate Kris Meeke - who retired from Rally Finland with broken suspension on Saturday morning - for "forgetting what the target was for this rally".

Latvala remains third and is easily ahead of the battle for fourth place, currently headed by Andreas Mikkelsen.

The Hyundai driver held a 1.5s lead over six-time world champion Sebastien Ogier heading into Saturday's afternoon running, but lost three seconds to Ogier after having to avoid a "huge rock in the middle of the road" on SS16 (Pihlajakoski 2), which handed Ogier the place.

Ogier then extended his advantage to 2.8s on the next stage (Paijala 2) despite Mikkelsen driving "flatout", but the tables were turned on the penultimate stage of the day (Kakaristo 2) as Mikkelsen beat Ogier before gaining a 2.6s advantage by the end of the loop.

Behind them sits Hyundai's Craig Breen, who remains just 6s behind Ogier. But Breen was left frustrated with the narrow confines at the start of both the Pihlajakoski and Kakaristo runs and he lost valuable time to Ogier and Mikkelsen on those stages.

Thierry Neuville's quiet rally continues as he runs seventh, with the Hyundai driver still feeling the pain of running third on the road. He is 23.1s behind Breen, but over 40s clear of the M-Sport Ford Fiesta of Teemu Suninen.

Suninen found the afternoon stages much more to his liking after enduring what he labelled a "horrible" Saturdaymorning loop.

He is two minutes up on team-mate Gus Greensmith, who fared better in the afternoon following a "disastrous" setup choice in the opening Saturday loop.

Kalle Rovanpera remains comfortably on top in the WRC2 Pro category, with WRC2 privateer Pierre-Louis Loubet's similar Skoda Fabia R5 the nearest challenger, over a minute behind.

Results - Stage 19

1Ott Tanak, M.JarveojaToyota Gazoo Racing WRTToyota2h08m49.4s
2Esapekka Lappi, J.FermCitroen Total WRTCitroen16.4s
3Jari-Matti Latvala, M.AnttilaToyota Gazoo Racing WRTToyota28.8s
4Andreas Mikkelsen, A.JagerHyundai Shell Mobis WRTHyundai50.5s
5Sebastien Ogier, J.IngrassiaCitroen Total WRTCitroen53.1s
6Craig Breen, P.NagleHyundai Shell Mobis WRTHyundai59.1s
7Thierry Neuville, N.GilsoulHyundai Shell Mobis WRTHyundai1m19.3s
8Teemu Suninen, J.LehtinenM-Sport Ford WRTFord2m05.3s
9Gus Greensmith, E.EdmondsonM-Sport Ford WRTFord4m09.7s
10Kalle Rovanpera, J.HalttunenSkoda MotorsportSkoda6m33.5s

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