Rallying: Tanak wins Arctic Rally as Rovanpera leads championship


FIA World Rally Championship - Rally Sweden - Stage 7 of Second Round - Torsby, Sweden - February 15, 2020. Ott Tanak of Estonia (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) looks on. TT News Agency/Micke Fransson/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. SWEDEN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SWEDEN.

(Reuters) - Estonian Ott Tanak won Arctic Rally Finland for Hyundai on Sunday while 20-year-old Toyota driver Kalle Rovanpera stepped up as the championship's youngest ever leader.

Tanak, the 2019 world champion, and co-driver Martin Jarveoja led the second round of the season from start to finish and won five of the 10 stages to end up 17.5 seconds clear of home driver Rovanpera.

Belgian Thierry Neuville was third for Hyundai with Irish team mate Craig Breen fourth.

The snow and ice rally, based in Rovaniemi, was the World Rally Championship's first within the Arctic Circle and replaced the Swedish round which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rovanpera, son of former WRC driver Harri, won the day's closing Power Stage for five bonus points, with Breen taking four and Neuville an extra three.

Tanak was fourth for two bonus points and reigning world champion Sebastien Ogier, who finished 20th after losing more than 20 minutes on Saturday when his car plunged into a snowbank, salvaged a point.

Rovanpera has 39 points with Neuville on 35.

Ogier, the previous leader and winner of last month's Monte Carlo opener, and Welsh team mate Elfyn Evans -- fifth on Sunday -- were level on 31 with Tanak fifth on 27.

Toyota lead the manufacturers' standings with 88 points to Hyundai's 77.

"This has been an amazing place to come for a rally, definitely one of the best for a winter event," said Tanak. "There’s no place where you can have more snow and the characteristics of the road have been very special."

"It’s more than a worthy addition to the world championship."

The next round is in Croatia on April 22-25.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Christian Radnedge)

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