This year’s FIA Junior World Rally Championship has delivered epic battle after epic battle and Neste Rally Finland was to be no different – Estonia’s Ken Torn securing his maiden victory after an intense fight with Sweden’s Emil Bergkvist.
Torn took the lead on Thursday’s opening super special, but as the action hit the forests it was Bergkvist who claimed the advantage – holding the lead for most of Friday before picking up a puncture and dropping 20 seconds behind his rival.
The Swede started Saturday intent on closing the gap, but Torn had other ideas and wasn’t about to deny a double victory for his homeland – especially not with the thousands of Estonians who had made the journey across the Gulf of Finland to spectate.
Setting a string of fastest times, Torn keep Bergkvist at bay. Then, on the penultimate stage of Saturday afternoon (SS18), the Estonian picked up a puncture and his lead was halved.
Sensing an increased chance of victory, Bergkvist pushed hard through the closing stages, but so did Torn – securing the win by 9.9 seconds.
Jean-Baptiste Franceschi rounded off the top-three on his Rally Finland debut. Not putting a foot wrong, the Frenchman put everything he learned during last week’s AutoGlym Ralli into practice to claim his second podium of the year.
With championship-leader Dennis Rådström failing to finish the event, the championship has also been turned on its head – Bergkvist leading the way ahead of Rådström and Franceschi with Torn not far behind.
The final round takes place at Rally Turkey next month and, with double points on offer, a thrilling finale awaits!