Riku Tahko fifth in Arctic Lapland Rally with Hyundai - “Good test kilometers and Finnish Championship points were gained”
The 2021 season of the Finnish Rally Championship started at the legendary Arctic Lapland Rally in Rovaniemi. Riku Tahko, who moved to the SM1 class this season with a Hyundai i20 R5 car, placed fifth.
The Arctic Lapland Rally, which started on Friday, started with the legendary Aittajärvi special stage. Riku Tahko from Porvoo, who drove a Hyundai i20 R5 in the SM1 class, together with his co-driver Markus Soininen, were on the move for the first time in the new class. Immediately the first special stage offered the drama of the winter rally, when Mikko Heikkilä, drove out and his car blocked the special stage.
- The start of the first special stage felt pretty good in terms of rhythm, but in the end, due the off of our rival, we had to stop and drive slowly in line to the finish of the stage with other competitors. It was hard to catch up with the rhythm after this and also the rest of the special stages on Friday felt difficult with including our spin. At times, it felt like I had never driven a rally before, told Riku Tahko.
After the calculated time from the first special stage and the special stages at the end of Friday, Tahko and Soininen were in seventh place in the SM1 class. The difference to the top was already over two minutes. For Saturday's special stages, Tahko's team received tips on adjusting the new Hyundai from the team of Hyundai works driver Oliver Solberg and Ole-Christian Veiby. The effects on car behavior were immediately visible.
- We learned more about the car's setups and we found things that made it easier to drive. On Saturday's first special stage the car already felt good to drive and in the remaining special stages we were already able to push.
On Saturday's special stages, Tahko managed to finally rise to fifth place. Riku and Niclas Grönholm took a tight race for sixth place in the SM1 class. In the last special stage, Tahko managed to get past Grönholm. In the same special stage, Veiby dropped from fourth to 11th place after the difficulties. Thus, Riku Tahko and Markus Soininen rose to fifth place in the SM1 class.
- It was a bit of a dream to be able to fight for the top five. Now it came true, but there was a lot of gap to the top. In SM1 class, the level is really high. It was great to get this collaboration with Hyundai started. We learned a lot of the car and we will definitely be able to be faster in the upcoming Finnish Championship rallies. Now from Arctic we gained good test kilometers and Finnish Championship points, Tahko concludes.
The Rally Championship series is scheduled to continue from 5 to 6. March in Kouvola.
Photo: Hannu Rainamo