Katajamäki wins Vaakuna Rally
Vaakuna Rally, the second round of the Finnish Rally Championship, was driven in Mikkeli on February 19. Quickest on the 7 special stages was Kosti Katajamäki with his Peugeot 206 WRC. This was Katajamäki's first ever in the Finnish Championship. He scored the fastest time on three stages beating Jouni Ampuja by 15.2 seconds.
Katajamäki, who is the protégé of double World Champion Marcus Grönholm, is a Suzuki front-runner in the Junior WRC, and this is his first season behind the wheel of a WRC car.
The second place man Jouni Ampuja practically lost his chances for victory on the first special stage, where he was left behind Katajamäki by 14 seconds. Third overall was Jarmo Mikkonen, who kept the fastest pace on the last stage of the rally.
Jari-Matti Latvala, who entered the competition after a last minute driver change, snatched fourth before Kristian Sohlberg who suffered with turbo problems in his car. Sohlberg nevertheless leads the championship in Group A after Mikkeli.
The winner of the opening round in Rovaniemi, Juuso Pykälistö had a grim day. He spun on the first special stage and retired after and off on the following stage.
Group N, over 2000cc
The hands-down winner of this group, by a margin of over 30 seconds, was Mitsubishi driver Juha Salo who also came fifth overall. The winning car is now owned by ex-Formula One driver Mika Salo, who competed with it in Hankiralli that took place on 26th February.
Second in the group was Teemu Laatunen, who made his debut in the wheel of a Subaru. Third in Mikkeli was the 2003 champion Hannu Hotanen.
Group N, upto 2000cc
A new name and a new make emerged amongst all the Hondas when Renault driver Kalle Pinomäki took the first place in this group. There was a tough battle between Pinomäki and Marko Mänty, but it came to an end on the last special stage when Mänty rolled his Honda onto the wrong side of a snow bank.
After Mänty's retirement Ville Hautamäki took second place,
losing 37 seconds to the winner. This time there were distinct time
differences between the top three - Janne Pihlajamäki who came
third was 36 seconds behind Hautamäki.