Juha Salo leading overall and in SM(FRC)2, Janne Tuohino leading in SM(FRC)1 at the end of day one
The Finnish Rally Championship kicked off today with Arctic Lapland Rally in Rovaniemi. Five stages were completed on Lapland´s roads lined with snow banks with the temperature dropping from minus 10 to 20 Celsius towards the evening. The dry frost caused the snow to dust and hamper visibility, which became the topic of the day.
The fastest was Juha Salo, the eight-times Finnish champion from Karkkila. He´s competing in SM(FRC)2. Salo started first on the road and thus avoided the dusting snow the whole day. Salo (Mitsubishi) now has a solid, almost three-minute lead in his class over Joni Nikko (Mitsubishi), who is second. Third in SM(FRC)2 is Esa Ruotsalainen (Mitsubishi) from Saarijärvi. He is currently 4:08.9 behind Salo. Salo was, with reason, very happy with his day: ´Despite the snow dust, which is nasty especially on the racecourse, the conditions are very good, and the car is running well, too. Of course it´s a bit easier when you are first on the road and you don´t have to struggle with the dust. The permission to use race fuel has really made a difference for this car. After a long time it is really great to race!
In SM(FRC)1, Janne Tuohino (Ford) from Kiiminki is holding the lead. He is 37 seconds behind the overall leader Juha Salo. Tuohino finished the day with a 46.4 seconds lead over Jarkko Nikara (Mitsubishi) from Saarijärvi. Third in SM(FRC)1 after five stages is Riku Tahko (Mini) from Porvoo 1:15.1 behind Tuohino. Ari Vihavainen, the 2013 FRC silver medalist, was also fast on the first stages but had to retire from fourth place after SS2 due to a technical problem.
Despite his lead in his class, Janne Tuohino felt a bit rusty after a few years´ break from racing:
´Obviously, I don´t have the routine, and the car would let me be faster. The driver is still a bit rusty. The car suits me better than a Super2000. We were lucky because Vihavainen retired. We got a longer gap to the car running in front of us, and the dusting snow bothered us less´ Tuohino commented at the finish of the last stage today.