2nd round of FRC: Tuohino in control
The second round of Finnish Rally Champinship 2003 started with mild winter weather in Lapua, Western Finland. The temperature was few minus degrees and there was approx. half a metre of snow.
In class Gr A, over 2-litres, Janne Tuohino was inbeatable. Sebastian Lindholm did manage to stay at the striking distance, but he had to retire on the last stage of the rally. The other challenger for Tuohino was Jouni Ampuja, but he stopped after the 3rd stage.
Tuohino took charge of the rally already from the first 13,9 km´s special stage. Second fastest was Ampuja with his Toyota Corolla WRC and third, the champion of ´02, Sebastian Lindholm and Peugeot 206 WRC. Before the service there was another 9,2 km´s stage on which Tuohino was again fastest, Lindholm was only 0,5 seconds behind and Ampuja lost 4,2 seconds. Tuohino was not satisfied with his performance so far: - I haven´t been able to drive as clean as I should have, he told at the service. Ampuja was hoping to get some more speed with new tyres but Lindholm had really had troubles: - We went out on the first stage, I left braking too late on a corner and went streight out, fortunately we managed to get back quickly and didn´t lose too much, he was telling.
After the service Tuohino continued in the lead. He was again fastest on the next two stages. Lindholm took the second place and Ampuja had troubles with the power steering. He was forced to retire after the third stage. - The power steering disappeared on a fast left, after which the car was more than heay to drive, he explaned. - We spinned once and went out even on the road section so it was impossible to continue, he added.
Leading Tuohino wasn´t happy either: - We hit the snow bank back ways in a junction, so it hasn´t gone too well for us, he told. - I feel like I´m still missing the best feeling from the driving, he complained. Lindholm was also a man without the best touch, he was irritated at the finish of the 4th stage: - I´m pumping all the time. I don´t have any rhythm at all!
The drivers entered the halt in following order: 1. Tuohino, 2. Lindholm, 3. Jari Viita, Ford Focus WRC, but Viita was already too far behind to answer the speed of the top two.
After the halt Lindholm took his first top time on the 5th stage. Tuohino was still leading with 17 seconds before they started to the last, 19,27 km´s stage. The competition was actually over before either one of them got to the finish, as Lindholm had troubles with his transmisson and was forced to retire. So Tuohino took the victory, Jari Viita took the second position, being 2 minutes 38 seconds behind and Jarmo Mikkonen with Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 5 reacherd the third place, 6 seconds behind Viita. Tuohino was happy at the podium: - Of course this victory feels great, now I also have quite a good score of championship points, he marked.
The Championship standings after 2/7 events:
Class: Gr A, over 2-litres
1. Janne Tuohino 39
2. Jari Viita 25
3. Jouni Ampuja 20
Jukka Ketomäki took his first win
In Gr N, over 2-litres the champion of 2002, Juha Salo was in the lead for the first three stages, but on the 3rd he had a puncture, and Jukka Ketomäki took his place. Ketomäki was not in his best shot, as he had suffered a bad flu during the past week. After the halt Ketomäki found his rhythm, but things werent easy: - I hit a tyre on the fifth stage in a corner heavily, and was afraidof loosing it, but fortunately not. After the stage we noticed, that what we actually lost was the shock absorber. Even though we managed to keep up good speed and got my very first victory in this class, Ketomäki told after the finish. Juha Salo was second and Marko Uutela third, they are all driving Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7:s.
Championship standings after 2/7 events
Class Gr N, over 2-litres
1. Juha Salo 32
2. Hannu Hotanen 29
3. Marko Uutela 26
Winner of the second round, Jukka Ketomäki has 15 points and is 5th.
The Finnish Championship points are also available in smaller classes of both groups. The winners of these classes were:
Gr A, up to 2-ltr. - Kosti Katajamäki VW Golf Kitcar
Gr N, up to 2-ltr. - Eero Räikkönen, Honda Civic Type R