The entry list for this year’s Neste Rally Finland has been revealed, headlined by 14 of the spectacular new-for-2017 World Rally Cars that will be making their first appearance on the high flying Finnish stages from July 27-30.
The figure matches the best entry seen yet this season for the 2017 cars, as part of a list that features 65 approved entries including 43 four-wheel drive cars.
All four manufacturers have entered three official cars eligible for makes points, led by M-Sport with four-time world champion Sebastien Ogier, recent first-time winner Ott Tänak and DMACK-supported Elfyn Evans in Ford Fiestas.
Ogier’s closest championship rival Thierry Neuville features in the Hyundai effort along with Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo, while at Citroën, Kris Meeke will return after missing Rally Poland to defend his Finland win from 2016, together with Craig Breen (who celebrated his first WRC podium in Jyväskylä last year) and Khalid Al Qassimi.
The Toyota team, based close to the home of Rally Finland and led by four-time world champion Tommi Mäkinen, will field its trio of home drivers: Jari-Matti Latvala, Juho Hänninen and Esapekka Lappi.
Two additional M-Sport-built Fiesta WRCs will be driven by Norwegian regular Mads Østberg and by young Finn Teemu Suninen, who makes his top-flight debut this weekend in Poland having begun his WRC adventure as the inaugural winner of the Future Rally Star of Finland award (organised by Neste Rally Finland promoter AKK Sports) just three years ago.
Suninen’s two successors as Future Rally Star of Finland Jari Huttunen and Juuso Nordgren both feature in the 15-car WRC2 entry behind the wheel of Skoda Fabia R5s, marking their first appearances at that level. The total number of R5 rally cars is 28.
They are joined by Max Vatanen, son of 1981 world champion Ari, who steps up in a Ford Fiesta R5 after winning the Drive DMACK Trophy contest on home soil in 2016. Heading the WRC2 entry are Ole Christian Veiby and Simone Tempestini, who were the Rally Finland winner and season champion respectively in Junior WRC/WRC3 last year. Category frontrunner Eric Camilli has also entered the rally, but not to score points in WRC2, for which Finland is not a mandatory event.
The 2017 Future Rally Star of Finland Emil Lindholm, selected through intensive assessment process to earn a funded drive on his home round of the WRC, will be one of eight drivers competing for honours in Junior WRC. The class was led heading into Rally Poland by Spaniard Nils Solans after he won both previous rounds, chased by Frenchman Nicolas Ciamin.