Esapekka Lappi and Takamoto Katsuta top the Finnish Rally Championship entry in Kuopio
Not one but two Rally1 cars will be seen in the next installment of the Finnish Rally Championship, IsoValkeinen Rally in Kuopio on February 4th. Esapekka Lappi and Takamoto Katsuta are both preparing for WRC Rally Sweden by driving a preparatory test event in Kuopio. A total of 122 crews entered the rally, of which 15 are international.
The participation of Lappi and Katsuta means that Kuopio will see a Rally1 classification car utilizing the new hybrid technology for the first time at the national level in Finland.
Last time we saw Lappi in the FRC was in 2021 at Top Building Rally in which Lappi participated with an N5 class Toyota Yaris. Katsuta, on the other hand, last appeared at the FRC level in the 2019 Riihimäki Rally, where Toyota's Japanese protégé drove a WRC car from the previous era.
Takamoto Katsuta. Photo: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool
The Austrian duo Gerard Rigler - Bernhard Ettel competes in the same class with Lappi and Katsuta, who are participating with an older spec Ford Fiesta WRC.
In SM1 class, there are a whopping 16 pairs of competitors. Class leader Teemu Asunmaa will be challenged by the likes of Jari Huttunen and former F1 driver Heikki Kovalainen. Experienced Saudi Arabian driver Rakan Al-Rashed and Austrians Roman Muhlberger - Alexander Strobl are also set to face the top Finnish drivers.
SM2 class also got a fair share of international color. Paraguay's Diego Dominguez, who is preparing for the first round of the Junior WRC class in Rally Sweden, will bring a nice spice to the class.
In the SM3 class, a whopping 17 crews will be seen, of which six crews are international. Roland Murakas from Estonia and Serhii Potiiko from Ukraine will visit the SM5 class.
The IsoValkeinen Rally will be run on Saturday, February 4th with a total of eight special stages consisted of just under 100 special stage kilometers. In addition to the FRC, the event also features the opening round of the Finnish Junior Rally Championship series. See the entire entry list here.
The rally will be streamed live via the Moottoriurheilu TV YouTube channel.
Official Finnish Rally Championship online ticket shop at coregoshop.fi.
Photo: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool