Mikko Heikkilä secures third in the Finnish Rally Championship on his maiden full season with Skoda Fabia R5
After 104 special stage kilometres and two days, Mikko Heikkilä placed second in the final round of FRC.
Mikko Heikkilä, 28, along with his co-drive Topi Luhtinen, 26, have placed second in the last round of Finnish Rally Championship, the Pohjanmaa rally. The two-day event consisted of nine special stages and 103,98 special stage kilometres. Friday had three stages driven in the dark of the night in humid conditions and around 10 degrees Celsius.
-It was a good day even though we were quite careful on the first stage. Stages two and three went as planned. The third stage especially was very slippery due to the harder and more packed road surface, said Heikkilä on Friday night.
He was fourth in the rally after 38,68 special stage kilometres. The gap to leader and eventual Finnish Rally Champion Teemu Asunmaa was 16,6 seconds.
Saturday’s leg consisted of 6 special stages with a total length of 65,3 kilometres. Weather was humid and road surface was still slippery, but the temperature had risen to around 15 to 20 degrees Celsius. Heikkilä drove the first three stages of the day without errors and rose to third position in the event with a 31,1 second margin to fourth-placed 10-time Finnish Rally Champion Juha Salo.
-We have a good rhythm now even though it´s still very slippery. A couple of junctions went a bit wide on the special stage five but other than that we’ve driven as planned. We’ll focus on enjoying the driving without losing concentration on these fast stages. Smart driving without pushing too hard, Heikkilä analysed at the day service.
On the seventh stage Emil Lindholm, driving second at the time, crashed his Fabia R5 Evo and was forced to retire from the event, thus raising Heikkilä to second place after Asunmaa and his Fabia R5 Evo. Heikkilä, piloting the first non-Evo Fabia R5 in the event drove consistently the last three stages of the day and placed second overall with a 40,9 second margin to Asunmaa. Placing second in the event was enough to secure him 3 rd in the driver’s championship.
- Feels great, we had a lot of fun today. Although our competitors had a lot of misfortune, we drove well without any major mistakes. I’m extremely happy about this result, Heikkilä smiled after the last special stage.
-I want to thank each and every one of my cooperation partners for this season. Especially I want to say a big thank you to my team, TGS Worldwide. They were always there for me and the car worked brilliantly the whole season. It was my long-time dream to compete a full season with an R5 car and now I got to fulfil it. Third place in the championship makes it even better. A big thanks to everyone, Heikkilä commented after the event.
Heikkilä was the first non-Evo Skoda Fabia R5 in the race. His average speed was 120,16 kilometres per hour in the fast Western Finland gravel roads. The winner of the event, Teemu Asunmaa driving the Fabia R5 Evo, had an average speed of 121,77 kilometres per hour. There were 10 R5-cars present, three of which were Skoda Fabia R5 Evos, 6 Skoda Fabia R5s and 1 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
Results: SM Pohjanmaa Rally
1) Teemu Asunmaa 50.45,9
2) Mikko Heikkilä +40,9
3) Juha Salo +1.00,3
4) Aleksi Röyhkiö +1.33,0
5) Esa Ruotsalainen +2.17,7
SM1 classification after FRC round 5/5
1) Teemu Asunmaa 107,5p
2) Emil Lindholm 95p
3) Mikko Heikkilä 61p
4) Esa Ruotsalainen 51p
5) Juha Salo 49,5p