Pykälistö dominant in Arctic Lapland Rally
Finnish Rally Championship Kick-off
The legendary Arctic Lapland Rally, driven this year for the 40th time, was the exciting opening round of the 2005 Finnish Rally Championship. The overall winner of the two-day competition was Juuso Pykälistö, who dominated both days with his Ford Focus WRC.
On day 1, Pykälistö was fastest in Group A on three of the six special stages and held the lead throughout the day. His closest rivals were Jouni Ampuja, also driving a Ford Focus WRC, and Marcus Grönholm's young protégé Kosti Katajamäki with a Peugeot 206 WRC. Poor visibility due to powdery snow and wrong tyre choices (ice vs. snow tyres) were the only things worrying the front runners. Both Pykälistö and Katajamäki were driving cars completely new to them. Pykälistö said he had done only approx. 35 kilometres of testing before this first rally of the season. Still all were happy with their equipment.
In Group N, over 2000cc the reigning Finnish Champion Juha Salo, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8, made an impressive start into the new season by being fastest on all of the six special stages of day 1. In Group N, up to 2000cc Marko Mänty was fastest on four stages with his Honda Civic Type R.
Saturday - Day 2
Even though the Arctic Lapland Rally is an event in the FIA International Calendar and has one overall winner, all drivers entered in the Finnish Rally Championship score championship points separately from each day of the rally, i.e. in regards of the FRC, day 2 was a completely new race.
Saturday saw a dramatic increase in retirements all round. In Group A first Jouni Ampuja had an off at the finish of stage 8 and was stuck upside down in the snow his race over. At the time of the accident, Ampuja was running in a solid second place. To add insult to injury, Jukka Ketomäki from Group N (over 2000cc) drove his Subaru right onto Ampuja's Ford only moments later. Ketomäki too was running second in his group. And that was not all folks - even a third car crashed onto the same pile and the most expensive car park of Rovaniemi was complete.
Kosti Katajamäki from Group A was running second behind Pykälistö after Ampuja's crash, but he too had to retire on special stage 9 due to a technical fault. In Group N, over 2000cc, Juha Salo who had been fastest so far on all of Saturday's stages, suffered the same fate as Katajamäki and was forced to retire from the rally due to technical problems after SS11.
Juuso Pykälistö took home the overall victory of Arctic Lapland Rally, as well as full championship points in Group A from both days. Hannu Hotanen won the second day of rallying in Group N, over 2000cc, and Marko Mänty carried on to win both legs in Group N, up to 2000cc.
Official Results at http://www.lapdatasystem.com/tun05/tulos.html