Tight battle of Tuohino and Lindholm
First win for Lindholm this season
Third round of Finnish rally championship, SM Vaakuna-ralli in
Mikkeli area was driven 15th March with warm spring weather.
Temperature was close to five degrees celcius and the snow was
smelting rapidly as the sun shone brightly. This caused that the
event was almost closer to a gravel rally than a pure winter rally,
although the conditions were really difficult - ice and gravel, and
you never knew where.
Sebastian Lindholm took control at the first two stages with his Peugeot 206 WRC. This was a bit helped by Ford Focus-driver Tuohinos mistake at the second stage, as he slightly went out and lost precious seconds. Tuohino recovered quickly and started hunting Lindholm by winning each of the last four special stages. But this wasn't enough. Finally Lindholm won with only 4,6 seconds. Tuohino still kept his lead in the championship standings while Lindholm came up from fourth position to third. Lindholm was relieved after his first victory this season: - It's been a tough day but fun, as we had to fight for each second. It's now easier to attend the summer rallies with the fact that I don't have to win each rally, as it was last year. - As a matter of fact we did also have small problems with electronics of the car during the third and fourth stage, but fortunately got it fixed for the last two, he went through his day. Third position in the rally went for Jarmo Mikkonen who drives Ford Focus WRC.
Championship standings, top three:
1. Janne Tuohino 51
2. Jari Viita 33
3. Sebastian Lindholm 31
Special stage winners:
SS 1: Sebastian Lindholm
SS 2: Sebastian Lindholm
SS 3: Janne Tuohino
SS 4: Janne Tuohino
SS 5: Janne Tuohino
SS 6: Janne Tuohino
Sebastian Lindholm, SS 1 - SS 6
Juha Salo controlled gr N
The day was Juha Salos in gr N, over 2-litres. He clearly beat his challenger, Jani Paasonen, who attended the rally as his home event with Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6,5. Salo took the lead from the beginning. Jari Ketomaa was second from first to third stage, until his Subaru Iprezas gear box broke. After that Paasonen was second and Jukka Ketomäki third. Ketomäkis Lancer Evo 7:s engine over heated after the third stage and he was forced to retire.
After that Hannu Hotanen claimed the the third position with his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7, but he wasn't interested in chaising Paasonen: - Jani is not scoring any points as he is not entered the championship, so I just try to keep my position as that guarrantees me the points of the second place, Hotanen told reasonably at the halt.
Paasonen managed to be the fastest on the fifth stage, leaving Salo only 0,6 seconds behind. The class-winner of the last stage was Teemu Laatunen, with Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7 which resulted him the fourth position in the class. Salo was naturally satisfied: - Everything went really well, we had absolutely no problems today, he told us at the podium. -I really enjoyed the demanding roads of the Mikkeli area.
Championship standings, Gr N over 2-ltr.
1. Juha Salo 47
2. Hannu Hotanen 41
3. Marko Uutela 36
Winner of Gr a, up to 2-litres was Tomi Tukiainen, VW Golf Kitcar and the winner of Gr n, up to 2-litres after unbelieveble fight was Tomi Lantta, Honda Civic Type R.
The event was third round in the series of seven events, and the last winter rally. Next event is 7 June in Joensuu.