Riku Tahko had good opening with the new Hyundai - The battle for the good position stopped on top of the snow bank
The traditional opening rally of the FRC series was held in Rovaniemi region over the weekend. Riku Tahko participated in the Arctic Lapland Rally with the new Hyundai i20 N Rally2 rally car. Tahko, who fought for fourth place at his best, was finally eleventh in the SM1 class.
Riku Tahko's expectations for speed in the 2023 season had risen, as Hyundai's new Rally2 version had already proven to be a faster and more competitive car than its predecessor in tests. In Rovaniemi, the start of the competition also showed that the pace has improved.
During Friday, the Tahko clocked the fifth fastest time for all but one of the special stages. Going into the night break, the position in the overall standings was Fifth and the gap to the top was less than a second per kilometer.
- The competition got off to a good start and the pre-event tests suggested that we are immediately at a better pace with the new car. The car immediately feels more suitable for me. In the past, it has been a bit difficult to be fast at the first special stage right away, but now that also happened, Tahko said.
On Saturday, the race day was opened by a run of three special stages, with which the Arctic Rally began to show its character. Tahko's positions in the special stages were eighth, seventh and sixth, but after Jari Huttunen, who was driving at the top, went off, Tahko got up to fight for fourth place. However, at the ninth special stage of the competition, Tahko got to experience the worst side of the winter rally for himself.
- For some reason, Roope Korhonen, who went off on Friday, was ahead of us in the starting order on Saturday. In the Heinunkierto special stage, they had driven off the road and the warning about this was late when we arrived. For a fraction of a second, the concentration was lost and we also got caught by a snow bank in the same corner.
The shoveling took half an hour and a good positions were gone. However, there was enough motivation to drive to the end of the competition, because even the remaining points at the opening of the season were handed higher than normal. The final position was eleventh in the SM1 class.
- Despite the position, the mood is not at all as down as it was a year ago. Now we know that the car has speed and it suits for my driving. Especially on clean road sections, the car is very competitive. The car is also reliable, because no problems occurred during the weekend. Thinking about the next rally, we have to do your homework with the tires even more carefully.
The FRC series continues at the beginning of February in Kuopio.
Photo: Taneli Niinimäki