Asunmaa wins the Arctic Lapland Rally after a thriller finish
Teemu Asunmaa has won the traditional Arctic Lapland Rally. The winning margin was only 1,5 seconds in the end after an all-event long fight. The opening event yields 1,5 times championship points giving a good head start for the upcoming season.
Teemu Asunmaa, 35, and his co-driver Ville Mannisenmäki, 27, have won the traditional Arctic Lapland Rally. The FRC season opener was won by Asunmaa with a margin of 1,5 seconds. The rally route was 235,89 kilometres long, and the weather -1 to +1 degrees Celsius.
On the opening day of Friday Asunmaa started out with two second fastest stage times and was second in class after leg one. The second leg saw Asunmaa drive a second fastest and two third fastest stage times. By the night break Asunmaa was second with a gap of 19,3 seconds.
-It was a bit of a slow start from us. Everything’s been working flawlessly, the car, and Pirelli tires on these conditions. We’ll build on it and improve tomorrow.
On Saturday’s opening stage, Asunmaa was on the offence slicing the gap to leader down to 12,6 seconds. Whilst the leader (Jari) Huttunen hit a snowbank on the SS7, Asunmaa was second when Juha Salo took the lead by 0,7 seconds. After the morning leg ending Ounasvaara super special stage the gap between the pair was 2,9 seconds. Only three stages remained.
-This morning was better than yesterday, even though the super special felt difficult. We’re well in the game now. Our goal is to avoid any mistakes and push hard to finish.
For the last three stages of the event Asunmaa put on a charge despite being the first car on the road. Before the final stage, the Skoda driver had elevated himself into the lead by 0,6 seconds.
The rally-ending 31,51 km Ristilampi stage became a thriller. Asunmaa pushed hard and won the stage with 0,9 seconds, and the rally by 1,5 at the finish line. Asunmaa’s average speed on the 235,89 kilometre route was 120,2 kilometres per hour.
-I was starting to think it’ll be a close one, but we succeeded in the end. It was a good leg and a good battle.
Asunmaa’s career fourth SM1 category win in Arctic yields 1,5 times the normal championship points giving the Finn a good head start in the championship.
-A big thank you for our cooperation partners, our service crew and everyone cheering us at the stages and at their homes. A much better start to a season than last year. Now we can head to Kuopio with relaxed minds.
Finnish Rally Championship season continues 3rd to 4th of February with IsoValkeinen SM-Ralli in Kuopio.
Photo: Hannu Rainamo