Salo Continues Domination in Laukaa
The second round of the Finnish Rally Championship took place in Laukaa, in the legendary roads of Central Finland. Fastest of all was Juha Salo with his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9. Salo won both the overall competition and Group N over 2000 cc. In Group A the winner was Janne Tuohino with his Subaru Impreza WRC, and the first driver in Group N up to 2000 cc to reach the chequered flag was Joonas Lindroos. Tuohino finished second overall, and Matti Rantanen, driving an Evo 9 like Salo, was a surprise number 3 overall.
Tuohino Scores First Win in Group A
Jussi Välimäki, the winner of Group A in the opening round, begun this round in a strong manner too with his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 by setting the fastest time on the very first special stage. His rally ended however on stage five due to a serious of problems. Janne Tuohino and Ari Vihavainen swapped fastest times throughout the day and the final score was a 3-3 tie. In the end Tuohino won by a margin of 15.7 seconds. Third in Group A was Jukka Hiltunen, but he lost almost two minutes to Tuohino.
- The top points feel good, but we really should be able to be faster than the Group N cars. I feel a bit rusty still, I guess, and my driving wasn´t altogether clean. Also, there was something to be "tweaked" in the car throughout the day and on the final stage the gearbox begun to show signs of problems again. We´ll try to score the overall win as well in Nilsiä, said Janne Tuohino.
Another Triumph for Juha Salo
Juha Salo scored his second win in a row this season in both Group N over 2000 cc and the overall competition with his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9. Salo´s first "double-whammie" of the season came in the Arctic Lapland Rally in Rovaniemi.
- I can´t say that this has been easy, but it is always great to win. I really trust the car, and when the guys inside the car are doing a good job too the result is pretty good. Somewhere in the middle part of this rally, the going didn´t feel that great, but the clock seemed to like the calmer driving style! On the final two stages we were already taking it a bit easier, Salo explained on his way to the podium.
Behind Salo, the battle for second place in Group N over 2000 cc was very tight. It was won, slightly surprisingly, by Matti Rantanen, a young driver who is a member of the AKK-Motorsport Rally Coaching Team. Rantanen driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 grabbed hold of the second place already on the first special stage and refused to give it up, despite of Kosti Katajamäki´s fierce attacks. The gap between Rantanen and Katajamäki was a mere 1.1 seconds in the end.
For the reigning Finnish Champion Jari Ketomaa this was a first outing with his brand new Subaru Impreza WRX 2008. It did not last long however, as Ketomaa had an off on the second special stage of the day and was forced to retire.
Group N up to 2000 cc Dominated by Joonas Lindroos
The reigning champion in this group, Joonas Lindroos seems to be dominating this season too, judging by the first two rallies at least. Lindroos was fastest on five of the seven special stages of the day. He won by 36.7 seconds before Vile Hautamäki, who finished second in Group N up to 2000 cc. Lindroos was all smiles on the podium.
- I didn´t even push that hard. On the Lankamaa stage I was able to establish a gap that was big enough to give me some security for the rest of the rally. The driving was really good and everything just worked perfectly. The roads were great and it felt good to drive, Lindros summed up.
Ville Hautamäki and the third place man Vesa Hirvonen promised together to come up with a plan to stop Lindroos in the next round.
Next round: TahkoSpa Rally in Nilsiä, 7 - 8 March 2008