Yamamoto and Kogure show speed on snow

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Toyota Gazoo Racing Racing WRC Challenge Program drivers Yuki Yamamoto and Hikaru Kogure both showed some promising speed on snow aboard the GR Yaris Rally2 at the Tuuri Ralli in Finland (March 8-9), with Yamamoto finishing fourth overall.

Serving as the third round of the Finnish Rally Championship, the event was new to the series and took place on roads around the village of Tuuri in Western Finland. It was the third and final event in winter conditions this year for Yamamoto and Kogure, who represent the second generation of the WRC Challenge Program, and allowed them to build on the experience they gained in their new car in the Arctic Rally and Rally Sweden in February. Seven stages would all be driven once, totalling 94.93 competitive kilometres.

The rally began with two stages in darkness on Friday night, and both drivers demonstrated strong pace from the start. Yamamoto, co-driven by Marko Salminen, was third quickest in the opening stage and then fourth fastest in the second, ending the evening only 12.2 seconds from the lead in fourth overall. Kogure and co-driver Topi Luhtinen were also fast on the early split times but were affected by a technical issue, leaving them around 50s from the lead after SS2.

Yamamoto remained in the battle for a podium place until the final loop of stages on Saturday afternoon and the longest stage of the rally, the 28.25 km SS6, where a spin dropped him around 30s from his nearest rival. Still, he reached the finish in fifth overall, and was promoted to fourth place provisionally another car was disqualified.

Kogure rebounded from his issue on Friday night to set some positive times on Saturday morning and a first outright stage win in the shorter SS5. He recovered to a top-six position overall before he overshot a junction in SS6 and then got stuck in a snowbank in the last stage, preventing him from reaching the finish.