Nikara and Adachi finish third in the Finnish Rally Championship
Finland’s Jarkko Nikara and his Japanese co-driver Sayaka Adachi, a member of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge program, finished third in the Finnish Rally Championship despite a challenging final round at the Lake City Rally in Tampere. Carrying an electrical problem from the start, they finished ninth in the SM1 class, but that was still enough to be on the championship podium at the end of the year: a historic achievement for a Japanese co-driver.
But the biggest problem that Jarkko and Sayaka faced was the electrical problem that became apparent on their Subaru Impreza WRX STI from the very start of the rally. As a result, they only had a couple of clean stages, with the car misfiring badly from the beginning. On SS4, Saturday’s first stage, they had to stop for two minutes to investigate the problem and this was a pattern that repeated itself throughout the day, although they did manage to claim one third-fastest stage time in the afternoon. When their main championship rival had a problem, Jarkko and Sayaka knew that they had to finish the rally to claim third in the final rankings: a unique achievement for a Japanese co-driver in Finland, especially because their R4 car was not as competitive as the faster R5 cars making up the bulk of the competition. Despite the many distractions on this very complicated rally, Jarkko and Sayaka eventually made it safely to the end to claim their prize.
“This was the most difficult rally of the year, with lots of crests and many different types of surfaces. In the recce, this was a worry but we had a good system, so the pace notes were quite good, I think. In the end, with all the problems that we had on the rally, it was hard to find a clean run over the stages, so that was frustrating for us. But the main thing is that we could stay on the road, finish the rally, and get a good result in the championship. I’ve learned so much from these fast and challenging roads in Finland, and my fantastic driver. I’m still learning of course, and I will keep trying my very best to improve every aspect of my co-driving performance.”
“That was a really tricky rally! We had an electrical problem from the beginning that meant we had no chance to do well. This was very stressful, and the rally conditions were not easy. We had to stop a few times to try and solve the problem, with fast roads and lots of fog as well. Sayaka did a very good job, although we had so many other things to worry about on this occasion, rather than pace notes! To finish third in the championship is a really good result: I never expected that at the start of the year in our R4 car. So of course, we’re both very happy to reach the finish here and have this result. Many thanks to the whole team.”
Jouni Ampuja (TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge Program instructor)
“The fact that Jarkko and Sayaka refused to give up under these very demanding circumstances and kept pushing hard for a result just goes to show how determined and effective they have become together as a crew. Their third place in the Finnish Rally Championship – probably the hardest place for a foreign co-driver to come into and deliver pace notes – is really well-deserved and a reflection of the constant improvement they have made together throughout the year. Congratulations to both of them: this season hasn’t always been easy, but it’s a fantastic learning experience, and now we look forward to the next exciting chapter in Toyota’s Challenge scheme.”