This early Thursday morning, nature itself reminded me of what I need to do or at least start doing. Having spent a good half hour intensively clearing the only entry into the World from metric snow tongues and walls, I put probably a good third of the text in mind. I felt like a real polar resident, waving a snow shovel in the morning instead of exercising or yoga. You couldn’t even ask for better circumstances and mood for a text about the Arctic Lapland Rally. It is a pity that I forgot to take a picture. If not for the main photo of the article, then at least in the archive.
There some rallies in the World, which have the same or even more fame than WRC or ERC rallies. Some of them, taking advantage of the Global Turmoil, is back on the main stage, such as the Ypres Rally. A similar but slightly different fate will befall this rally. After the original event of the Finnish championship, a little over a month later, these roads will get a feast of centimeter spikes again. Only this time they will determine the course of the World Rally Championship.
I will not say much about the specifics of this rally in this post. Also, I will not mention separately the Lithuanian crews, even three of whom found a way out to compensate for the vacuum of winter rallies in Lithuania. Because:
A. You can read more about the history of the Arctic Lapland rally in last year’s post:
B. Those who have recently returned from there will tell you about their adventures.
So I’ll jump straight to what was going on in the Arctic in a general sense. The victory this year was taken again by Toyota Gazoo Racing. If last year it was a testing ground for Kalle Rovampera, who started with Toyota Yaris WRC for the first time, this time Juho Hanninen was given another task – to gather as much information as possible about what will happen in the second event of the WRC. Last year and now – both Finns performed the task perfectly, among other things having escaped from the nearest rivals more than a few minutes. There was no equivalent competition, although next to the Yaris, three more WRC models started. Although two of them had a really good fight between themselves. F-1 star Valtteri Bottas won the speed dispute for 6th place with Citroen DS3 WRC, 18 seconds ahead of other Finn Kimmo Kurkela with Ford Fiesta WRC. The third – old as the Earth Mitsubishi Lancer WRC in the penultimate speed section broke down. All the drivers of these three cars have one thing in common – if they ever go to the rally tracks, it is almost exclusively to this rally. Like the son of the legendary M. Gronholm – Niclas. But there are so many here like them. It just shows the value of this rally.
But all the fun went on in the fight between the R5 class cars.
Guests such as O.Solberg, O.C. Veiby, and Estonians G.Jeets, E.Kaur, G.Linnamae tried to infiltrate into a real Finnish sauna, which is usually ruled by T.Asunmaa, J.Salo, E.Lindholm, M.Heikkilla. Some did better, others – worse.
T.Asunnmaa as a champion should do, grabbed first place among R5 cars. He has not released the occupied positions since the third special stage, despite the fact that a number of fast crews were mixing behind him at a very close distance. And while some were slowing down, made mistakes, and wasted precious time, O.Solberg hit the breeze on the second day after he accustomed to the new Hyundai and human-sized snowdrifts. He climbed from sixth to third, and if the last special stage had been 2 kilometers longer, Oliver could have overtaken Teemu as well. They were separated in just 0.9 seconds.
It was the first of three Finnish Rally Championship winter rallies. How will be with others – is not yet clear.
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Photos – Hannuphoto, Taneli Niinimaki
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