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Valtteri Bottas at the wheel of a rally car in the Finnish Rally Championship season opener: “A whole new experience for me”

11.12.2018 / AKK

The opening event of the Finnish Rally Championship 2019, the Arctic Lapland Rally organised at the end of January, boasts true motorsport star power as Finnish Formula One ace Valtteri Bottas will join in on the action at the wheel of a full-blooded WRC machine. Bottas’ co-driver at the “Flying Finn – Mission in Lapland” challenge will be the two-time World Rally champion Timo Rautiainen. 

Valtteri Bottas, who will be fighting for the Formula One world championship title in 2019, ventures into totally new territory at the beginning of the new year. He will be facing an ice-cold challenge on the legendary rally roads of the Finnish Arctic Circle, which he will be tackling with an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC. The car is from the same team than and similar to the one that Sebastien Ogier has won his two latest rally world titles with. 

- This is a unique opportunity to take a peek into the world of rallying, and I would like to thank everyone who has made it possible. It’s totally new territory for me too, as I have no prior experience of a World Rally Car. Still, being the race car driver that I am, you always go flat out whatever the vehicle you’re driving in, says the cheerful Bottas full of anticipation. 

Paired with a two-time World Rally champion as co-driver 

In the Arctic Lapland Rally, Bottas will be treated to world class co-driving, as his co-pilot at the event is be Timo Rautiainen, who has won two World Rally titles with Marcus Grönholm. We are not accustomed to seeing Rautiainen paired with anyone else but Grönholm, but this rare opportunity tempted him into making at least a temporary comeback to co-driving.

- In my life, I’ve sat in a rally car with only three drivers, but this is such an interesting mission that I just had to accept the challenge. I believe that for a talented wheelman like Valtteri, we’ll be able to establish a good basic driving routine in testing. The challenging part of course will be learning the ins and outs of pace note making and learning to drive with pace notes all at once, says Rautiainen. 

In addition to Marcus Grönholm, Rautiainen has been a co-driver for Sebastian Lindholmand Mikko Kalliomaa.

Mission in Lapland is the next step on AKK-Motorsport’s Flying Finn concept 

The AKK driver path, built under the Flying Finn concept, has produced some very capable Finnish drivers into the world’s elite. Valtteri Bottas’ “Mission in Lapland” is a part of that concept. The Flying Finn driver himself will be attacking the arctic rally roads with a blue-and-white car and with the AKK Flying Finn insignia. The car livery will be revealed at a later date. 

- The “Flying Finn – Mission in Lapland” is a fantastic way to kick-start the new motorsport year and a great sequel to last summer’s “Flying Finns – Challenge in the Sky” air show. The Flying Finn theme will be seen in every AKK event in 2019, including Neste Rally Finland, with the season finale being the FIA Karting World Championship, i.e. the Flying Finn Race, at the beginning of September. We wish Valtteri an awesome rally experience and welcome all motorsport fans to the unforgettable Finnish Rally Championship season opener, says the AKK Marketing Communications Manager Rita Pasanen.

Score top 5

1. Teemu Asunmaa / Jani Salo 102 points Alavuden UA (R5)
2. Juha Salo / Topi Luhtinen 99 points Karkkilan UA (R5)
3. Emil Lindholm / Mikael Korhonen 67 points NHD (R5)
4. Kristian Kiviniemi / Enni Mälkönen 51 points ParkUA (R5)
5. Jari Ketomaa / Marko Sallinen 39 points MikUA ()

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Calendar 2019

Rally Location Date
1. Arctic Lapland Rally Rovaniemi 24.-26.1.
2. SM O.K. Auto-ralli Kouvola 15.-16.2.
3. SM-Itäralli Joensuu 2.3.
4. SM Riihimäki Ralli
Riihimäki 24.-25.5.
5. Pohjanmaa Ralli
Seinäjoki 14.-15.6.
6. SM Oili Jalonen Ralli
Laitila  30.-31.8.
7. SM Ralli Salo-Turku
Turku-Salo 27.-28.9.

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