perjantai 25. lokakuuta 2013

SM Castrol rally 27th-28th of September, Tampere

Tampere was the final round of Finnish rally championship. A short list of things that made it a bit special compared to some of the other rallies: it’s the final round of the championshipJari lives in Tampere so it’s his home rally, the service park was located in Särkänniemi amusement park, only 1h40min drive to Tampere for me through motorway from Helsinki and in Tampere area the stages are usually great.


Since it was Jari’s home rally we had a chance of having a small warm up test on Thursday evening. That helped to get into rally feeling when driving in the darkness. When picking up the paper work next morning we noticed that all of the stages were old Rally Finland stages from the 80’s and 90’s so for sure we were in for a treat. After doing the pace notes for last stage called Pengonpohja Jari made a good analysis of the stage -> If a codriver has “a timing problem in his engine” then there is a need for a new chassis for the rally car after this stage”. I agreed with his analysisPengonpohja is a great stage which turns and goes up and down all the time.


First two stages were driven already on Friday evening. Actually it was the legendary Savo stage which was to be driven twice. First during the daylight and a couple of hours later when we it was dark. We took it with normal pace on both times and the times were good. We were 7th overall, but in the lead wereNikara and Kruuda both with S2000 cars. Among the normal guys driving the whole series we were 5thSo not bad at all.

The morning didn’t start well for us. Jari didn’t find a good rhythm on the really fast Siikama stage and we dropped to ninth. All the stages on Saturday were to be driven twice. The same phenomenon occurred on the first loop and on the second loop. Siikama didn’t go well on either timesAfter Siikama wasViitapohja and on both times we liked the stage a lot. After Viitapohja was Pengonpohja and on both times after Pengonpohja we were both ecstatic. Have to say that the stage is probably the second greatest stage I have seen. Ouninpohja still being the greatest. Those two stages can’t really really be compared since Ouninpohja is wider road and faster. Anyhow a great stage to end our championship. We ended up 6th in the championship and luckily my mistake in Turku didn’t matter in the standings.


This is the time to thank our sponsors for the season. Like always without whom the season wouldn’t have been possible. Big thank you for our mechanics for keeping the car in order and the sprits high throughout the season. After all this is a team sport. Also from my part thanks for Jari. We had a fun season and it’s easy to continue the cooperation for 2014. Our plans aren’t a big secret. The Finnish 4wd class will be divided into two classes. Our plan is to fight in the SM1 –class among the big boys. The class allows quite free modifications to group N cars. We’ll probably just tune the engine a bit, but otherwise keep the car as it is. As usual the season starts with the legendary Arctic Lapland Rally inRovaniemi. So that I wouldn’t keep a three month radio silence from writing a blog I’ll think of something to write about every now and then.

sunnuntai 6. lokakuuta 2013

SM ralli Turku 30th-31st of August

After Vetomies –rally with my brother it was time to get back to my normal seat in Jari’s evo. I had never been rallying in Turku area so I didn’t really know what to expect. I expected the roads to mostly flat. I wasn’t exactly 100% right on that one. During recce we found out some of the stages to even have some hills erc. We arrived to Turku on Thursday to pick up the recce material. There were two stages already on Friday evening so the recce started early on Friday morning.


Nothing special during the recce. Only nuisance was that the Friday’s stages were quite far from Turku and Saturday’s stages on whole different direction. So during the recce you just had to travel between the stages a bit more than you would have wanted.


Then to the actual rally. Well to put it mildly. Friday was a catastrophe. At least we didn’t wreck the car. So what happened? First of all Jari dropped his classes. He can see pretty well without them, but when you are driving long in the dark and long distances it would have helped to have them. So we took some beating on the stages. That was a minor problem compared to what I managed to do. Something you never do as a co-driver. Never ever. I handed the timecard during the previous minute in the start of SS2. Voilá a one minute penalty! I´ve been through the incident in my head a few hundred times and it comes to a conclusion that I just lost concentration when I was tired. SS1 had to be stopped for 20 minutes right before it was our turn to go to the stages. This of course gave us a good starting position without any dust blocking our lights in the dark. When going to the start of SS2 around 11.30pm I was feeling a bit tired (I usually go to bed around 9.30pm) and I made extra sure that we don’t end up talking bs with Jari and going late to the time control. Since there wasn’t the normal queue of cars in which it’s easy to follow when your turn is. Immediately when Jari stopped to the time control I had handed the timecard. I didn’t even realize it until Jari asked that did I just hand in the timecard. Of course it was no help trying to ask it back. Luckily I managed to pull myself together so much that I read the pace notes OK. For sure the pace notes weren't the primary thing going through my head during the stage.

Feeling not so cheerful we headed to the night service. Without my mistake we would have been  5th in overall standings. Now we were 14th. I felt like gutted. Driver can make mistakes. That’s OK. A co-driver should always be an enabler for a good result. Not a disabler. Of course everybody makes mistakes, but on our level that kind of mistakes should never happen. Forme It's a professional pride thing. During the next morning several other co-drivers approached me and told their stories when they had made the same mistake. Nice for the guys trying to cheer me up. Never the less I was still very down. When queuing for SS3 which was the first stage of the morning a big high speed crash happened for one crew some five cars in front of us. When waiting for the rescue crews to check the crew there was about 45min wait. The crew was luckily relatively unhurt, but had to go to a hospital for a thorough check up. For some reason this extra waiting news from the crew helped me to put the timecard mistake behind me and focus on the stages.


The two stages which were both run twice during Saturday were really nice. Stage by stage we were getting into the spirit. On the very last we really enjoyed ourselves. A very nice, long and flowing stage suited us as a crew. We also climbed the leaderboard position by position. From 14th to 6th. Without my mistake we would have been 4th. That position was only 12 seconds away. Damn… It took me about a week after the rally to not think about the mistake every day. I think it will take some time before I stop thinking about the mistake when I’m handing out the timecard. And that’s a good thing.

sunnuntai 8. syyskuuta 2013

Vetomies -rally 3rd of August, Jyväskylä

Neste Rally Finland, The Finnish Grand Prix. So what does Vetomieshave to do with it? During some of the years there has been an extra class after the Neste Rally cars. In that class the competitors drive with Finnish 2wd group F cars which have outdated homologation.For example BMW M3, Toyota Corolla GT, Opel Astra, Ford Escortetc etc. This year we participated to the class with my brother Mikkoin his BMW M3. Jari also took part with his brother in their M3. In the middle of Finnish rally championship this was an opportunity to just enjoy the rallying how it’ meant to be done. Sideways :) TheVetomies –rally was done on Saturday and we drove stages Surkee,LeustuOuninpohja and Painaa after the big boys had done the stages for the first time. It was really great to be part of the WRC round  atmosphere. Since we haven’t done that many rallies with my brother anymore I was really looking forward to doing one rally with him. Just like back in the day. A BMW, Mikko driving and me co-driving.

The recce was one weekend on a Saturday. Actually a couple of days earlier than even the WRC guys get to do the recce. Maybe the organizers didn’t want them to be in our way during the recce :D We managed to make good pace notes even though Mikko hasn’t done notes in a long time and usually doesn’t do pace note rallies.

Next Friday it was time to get back to Jyväskylä. To kill the time me, Mikko and a couple of our friends went to see Lankamaa stage. After the stage me and Mikko headed towards Kangasniemi to spend thenight. Next morning it was all rally glamour. Wake up at 5am and on the road around 5h45. 

Around 7am we were ready at Paviljonki for paper check and scrutineering. The whole atmosphere was really relaxed since probably 90% of the crews were there just to enjoy themselves.

The Vetomies rally usually has a really high retiring rate and that was wise to keep in mind. Around 11am it was our time to head towards the stages. The Surkee stage was familiar to me from last year. The stage was luckily in quite good shape after the WRC guys. We took it steadily trying not to damage the car. Mikko was also learning how to concentrate on listening to the pace notes. Our tactic was to avoid any damage to the car so that we could enjoy the famousOuninpohja stage. After Surkee we continued through Leustu with the same strategy. One of the Leustu junctions was so soft that we almost got stuck with the heavy rwd BMW.

After Leustu there was a short service break on a road section. We checked the car and didn’t even change the tyres. No fluids or anything needed either. Everything was OK and we just ate and drank a little bit to keep energy levels up. We hadn't even expected any problems. Mikko's trusted mechanic Teuvo was enjoying the rally as a spectator and our dad was the only mechanic we had with us. Even a couple of spectators came to the car laughing and commenting that there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with the car since everybody is just talking bs and eating. The Ouninpohja stage started very well. Mikko had better gotten used listening the pace notes and since the stage was in great condition he could push the car without having to worry about it getting broken.

When reaching the famous Kakaristo junction after over 20km we were inside the top ten according to the gps tracker that was installed inside all the cars. About 700m everything went wrong. The organizers had built a jump for Tommi Mäkinen’s VIP people and we landed heavily nose first. Several cars broke in that artificial jump and we were no exception. The landing had damaged our oil cooler which had ripped of the radiator from its mountings. About 3km after the jump on the so called Ouninpohja small road our engine seized. End of our rally. 
Unfortunately we also had to wait for several hours for the WRC guys to drive the stage for the second time. The organizers driving through the stage were really cool and stopped at our spot to ask if we were alright and if we needed anything. Even though we had drinking water the supplied us a couple of liters more. A big thank you for that for those guys. Very friendly. Our car wasn’t blocking the road, but it was on the outside corner where the WRC cars would throw a lot of stones. We tried to clean all the bigger stones after a car had passed, but unfortunately Kris Meeke dropped the driver’s side window with one stone. Kris himself wasn’t too lucky either crashing his car about 3km later. A shame since we was driving a great rally with a factory Citroën. Even though we didn’t finish the rally and broke the BMW’s engine we were quite happy. The setup of the car is pretty much spot on and since the Ouninpohja had gone so well the broken engine isn’t the end of the world.

perjantai 9. elokuuta 2013

SM O.K Auto -ralli, Kouvola

After Laihia I was really looking forward to KouvolaIn Kouvola the stages have been similar as in Joensuu which means going up or down or turning almost all the time. Proper fun. OK I admit that most parts the stages in Laihia were nice, not like the highways in Lapua in 2011&2012. When we started the recce it turned out the organizers had included a couple of new stages which would be driven twice. Excellent news except the stages looked a lot like in Lapua the past years. Pretty flat roads between farms. Not like the usual roller coasters of Kouvola. Last two stages were familiar stages from past years and they were excellent in my opinion.

Since Laihia didn’t go at all like we had planned this rally was a bit like a second start for our summer season. The first three stages went OK with our normal speed. We were 8th on all the stages losing about 1-1,5 sek/km to the old WRC cars and fin-r cars in the front. It was good the see that the tyres and the car worked on those three stages. This way we could get the monkey off our backs after Laihia.

After service we did the same three stages again. On this loop we were constant with our performance again. Now being 7th on all the stages.

After these three new stages we headed towards two more familiar stages from previous years. Especially the second one of these two stages was nice to read as a co-driver. The stage was quite fast and you had to change the rhythm a couple of times. Enjoyable and keeps you awake as a co-driver. As an extra challenge the brake pedal went a bit soft in the end of the stage so Jari got more exercise when pumping the brakes. We were again 7th on both stages.

The very last stage was a 1km super special on Tykkimäki rally cross track. Want to guess our position? Yep, 7th again. After the finish we (us and three other competitors) had the privilege of being invited to after rally scrutineering. The organizers wanted to inspect turbos and see connecting rods. Well nothing to be found there. In Finland you are driving with a group N car against the more freely tunable(engine, bodywork, suspension) fin-R and R4 cars. You would have tomissing a couple of Indians from the canoe if you were stupid enough to enter your car to the rally as an illegal group N car when you can enter it under fin-R regulations.

maanantai 1. heinäkuuta 2013

SM-Pohjanmaa ralli 15th of June 2013

This season's winter rallies are over and it was time to get back to gravel. This year the waiting wasn't so bad since I managed to co-drive on Isle of Man. I also sold my summer car and had to find another in a bit of a hurry. For those who don't know the Finnish summer is short and if you want to have a convertible you have to act fast to be able to drive it even a litte bit.

The summer part of the season started from Laihia in the western part or Finland. I haven't been a big fan of the area based on two previous years' experiences in Lapua. The roads were really really fast and not that challenging. Laihia luckily turned out to be different. The organizer had managed to find more driveable roads. Now that the roads weren't a problem we in return had other issues. More than one.

The recce went OK. Easy recce since two stages were run twice so you basically had about 60km to put on paper. No sweat. Plenty of time to eat during the recce and bs with other crews. The problems started in the Friday evening scrutineering. For some reason all the cars (at least the crews we discussed with) got 10db higher readings from the sound measurement than normally. Since we are usually at the limit we had difficulties getting the car through. Luckily we weren't the only ones so the issue wasn't fully about the car. Well this was a minor nuisance.

During the scrutineering we had a couple of alarming discussions about tyres. We have been running Pirelli's throughout the season. Good tyres and I have nothing bad to say about them. This time we had K4s with us and they are designed to +20 celcius temperatures. We were looking at +15 for the event and we were warned the tyres wouldn't heat up enough. I wasn't too concerned since last year with Michelin's medium compound you could run also with a bit colder temperatures. Oh boy the people warning us were right. We put the two softer K6s in the front so that we could at least turn the car if the K4s would be as slippy as everybody warned us. They were. It was like trying to drive a shopping cart with stearable front wheels through the stages. No matter how carefully Jari was driving the rear was trying to overtake us all the time. Looking from the co-driver's seat the amount of work Jari had to do was frustrating to watch. Obviously even more frustrating for him. Now we learned a lesson about the tyres.

Another issue was a lack of power. For some reason there are now ponies missing from the engine and we'll take the car to a dyno to find a reason. With the right tyres and with the normal power the next round will hopefully be easier for us. Would be nice to get a trouble free rally since the roads in Kouvola area are really challenging and require all the concentration available if you want to have times near the front runners.

lauantai 1. kesäkuuta 2013

Manx National Rally, Isle of Man 10-11th of May 2013

Rallies are always mini adventures, but for me the Manx National rally was a bigger adventure than rallies normally. Like I wrote already it was my first rally outside Finland, my first rally on tarmac and my first rally reading pace notes in English. The journey started on Wednesday morning when me and my girlfriend flew from Helsinki to London Gatwick and from there to Isle of Man. Things don't always go as planned and the Gatwick ground crew managed to make a hole to the front of our airplane with a towing bar. So waiting the next flight to IoM and arriving four hours later than intended. Not much time after that than to find the hotel in Douglas, make a short trip to grocery store and eat dinner at the hotel. Then to bed.

Our hotel at Douglas
 The following morning I went to meet Malcolm at the TT Grandstand famous for the Isle of Man TT races. We had exchanged a lot of emails, but this was the first time we got to meet in person. The plan was to sign in for the recce and and drive through the stages. We had bought Pattersons notes for the stages and gotten some old notes from one local co-driver. If lucky we wouldn't have to make much changes to the notes I had prepared. Not the optimal situation since it's always better to make your own notes, but of course time was a luxury we didn't have in this rally. During the recce we made small modifications to the notes and felt comfortable with the notes we had. After the recce we drove to Peel where we had accomodation for the rest of the rally. The scenery was very beautiful. We don't have seaview, sandy beaches and a castle all in the same place here in Helsinki.

On Friday we started the rally around 7.30pm. So we had most of the day to set up the service area, get something to eat, go to scrutineering etc. Next to us in service was an ex Colin McRae legacy. I never would have thought I would get to see that legendary legacy.

At the service park you could also see some cars which you can't find in Finnish rallies because of our regulations. For example Darrians and group B metros.

The Friday's stages went OK for us. There were eight stages in total from which two were super specials driven in a town called Ramsey. The super special beats the h**l out of our Finnish super specials driven on a horse race track or some industrial area. Unfortunately two stages were cancelled, because of an accident. It was a stage which would have been driven twice, but because of the accident the organizer cancelled also the second round. I got to practice reading the notes in English anyhow. It took a lot of brain capacity from me since I had to think more about the notes I'm reading and also since I had to concentrate more on pronouncing the words also. In Finnish rallies it's easier since you process the infor from your note book much more automatically. On the the stages we had a couple of small moments. On one stage the road was so narrow that by just simply turning left in a junction we scraped the rear end of the car in some stone which has had to be more out of the stone wall than others. In the night service we realized the stone had actually scraped everything else, but the driver's door. In the end of one stage we clipped the front wheel to something a little bit and had a puncture. Luckily it was right in the end of a stage and we could change the tyre on a road section. In the night service I helped a little bit by taking of the wheels and light pods. Other than that I tried to stay out of the way so that our mechanics Keith and Vaughan could concentrate on working and not explaining to me how I could help. We managed to get to bed around 1am. A long day.

Night service

A stone scraped driver's side a little bit.
After five hours of sleep it was time to get back to service park. On Friday it had been dry, but on Saturday it was raining like cats and dogs. Naturally we opted for wet tyres. On Saturday we continued with the same rhythm as on Friday. After the first loop we decided to put slicks instead of wet tyres since we would drive the same set of stages again and they seemed to be getting dryer. It's a funny feeling when you are leaving the service with slicks and suddenly there is raining hailstones. 5 miles later on the stages there was almost dry roads as we hoped. The micro climate on Isle of Man is something that you have to see for yourself. I had read about it, but you have to see it to believe it...

Here are a couple of onboard clips from Saturday's stages

Stage was delayed and waiting in a queue. The scenery is vey different compared to Finland.
So is the road surface.
 After about 180 special stage kilometres we got to the finish. On the IoM I managed to see all kinds of tarmac roads: narrow, wide, fast, slow, smooth, bumpy, dry, wet, muddy. We had been climbing in the class standings little by little and actually after the last stage secured a class victory. The class victory was nice, but the main thing was how everybody made me feel welcome. Of course Malcolm and the rest of the team made the weekend really easy for since I didn't have to worry so much about all the responcibilites I normally carry during the rally weekend. Outside of our team the other competitors and organizers were really friendly and helped to easy my stress levels by enabling me to spend some time talking bs between the stages.

Here is a review of the rally by Special Stage Manx National Rally review We also got our 3 seconds of fame in the review.

Hopefully I have a chance in the future to do more rallies abroad. For this year the schedule starts to be quite booked with the Finnish rallies. Finnish rally championship continues in Laihia in the midde of June and the next round is in Kouvola in the middle of July. Unfortunately we have to skip Rally Finland in the end of July, but since me and Jari are fast thinkers we already have a back up plan. In Neste Rally Finland there is a popular extra class called Vetomies. It is driven during Saturday with Finnish group F cars and this year you will have a chance to drive also Ouninpohja. Since you have to enjoy rallying we go to Vetomies with a laid back attitude. I will actually co-drive for my brother Mikko in his M3 and Jari will be co-driven in his M3 by his brother Harri. In the M3s it's easy to live life according to mantra "life has to be lived sideways"! I hope I didn't misquote Ari Vatanen too badly here.

lauantai 6. huhtikuuta 2013

Something different...

People sometimes get bored. I was a bit bored during the winter break between last rally of 2012 and first rally of 2013. Few of months of not rallying can get to you. When we finished the last rally of winter season in the beginning of March I was facing potential boredom since the first rally of summer season is in the middle of June. It doesn't help much if there is one rally in the middle of May for gravel testing. That's two and a half months. Getting bored is a real risk. So I started to think. This is something I'm not supposed to do since my girlfriend says I'll get ideas. And that's exactly what happened.

So one day I realised that I have always wanted to do a tarmac rally. And since we don't have those in Finland and many Finnish drivers don't go to abroad to drive tarmac rallies I would need a driver to take me as a co-driver. And since not very many foreign drivers speak Finnish I would have to read the pace notes in English. This needed some serious thinking. So after two hours I had made my mind and posted adverts on rally forums.

I posted an advert on British, French, Belgian and German rally forums saying that I was looking for a co-driver's seat on a tarmac rally. First of all I got a lot of encouraging messages from people wishing me luck on finding a seat. To cut a long story short I managed to find a seat through the British forum. Best of all in my books it wasn't just some tarmac rally. I would get to read notes on the legendary Isle of Man in the Manx National rally . Manx wasn't originally on a NEAFP list for foreigners to take part, but the organizers were 130% supportive to enable my entry. Nothing else to say that I can't thank them enough for their help. For me Manx is a bit special. I guess many have seen this clip of Ari Vatanen having a close call in Manx Ari Vatanen, Opel Manta . Since I was two years old in 1983 I have spend more time watching videos, DVDs and clips from the F2 era in the British championship. Those cars on tarmac were just awesome 1999 British tarmac rallies .

The brave soul to give me a ride in his Subaru Impreza is Malcolm Mawdsley from Activ8motorsport activ8motorsport . So on the 10-11th of May I'll be in an Impreza, on Isle of Man, reading pace notes in English (numeric not decriptive as in Finland), 120 miles of special stages on tarmac. On top of that two weeks later is Ovisepät rally in Finland to get gravel experience on Jari's evo 9. So chances are I don't get bored before the next FRC round in the middle of June. The chances of me not getting bored are actually really good.

perjantai 15. maaliskuuta 2013

SM-Itäralli, Joensuu 9th of March

Finally my home event is back in the Finnish rally championship calendar. Nowadays I live in Helsinki, but I still regard Itäralli as my home event. I don't even have to lie when saying that Itäralli has the best roads in the championship. Ask any driver or co-driver. The roads are sometimes fast, sometimes slower. All the time going up and down the hillsides. Simply brilliant.

The rally started with the normal recce on Friday. Nothing much to report. The only out of the ordinary thing was towing one of our fellow competitors out of a snowbank when his Renault Megane had slid of the road. I haven't been very impressed with my Volvo XC60 as a winter car especially since it doesn't want to turn at all. Have to give it thumbs up as a towing truck however. Didn't even break a sweat getting the Renault out of the ditch. In the evening we relaxed at one of Jari's friends place and went to sauna and a jacuzzi. The jacuzzi was on his backyard. I'm not kidding. It was awesome to sit in a warm jacuzzi in the middle of the Finnish winter.

Saturday's first special stage wasn't the best for us. I made one mistake when reading the notes (luckily an obvious one in an easy place) and Jari also took it on the safe side. Our main competitors had pressed flat out so we took a beating. On the second stage we drove better, but still took a beating again. Not fun. On the third one we lost a lot of time again. This time we were a little bit amazed since that kind of a stage would have normally suited Jari's driving style. Jari was complaining that the car was little out of breath. After the third stage we headed to service where Eero from Printsport connected his laptop to our car's motec. The analysis indicated that our turbo wasn't giving the boost it should on the lower spectrum of rev band and was giving normal boost only on the high revs. Well that explained some of the lacking speed. Not all of it though.

From service we headed to super special stage on Joensuu horse track. Nothing to comment on that. It was a super special... Stages number 5 and 6 were the best on the rally. The fifth a super fast roller coaster of a stage! We don't have our own incar films in youtube but here is the stage from Juha Salo's car Juha Salo, Itäralli, stage 5 Stage number 6 was 30km long spectacular piece of road. Mostly really fast, but between 20-25km you had 5km section of really technical small road again some incar footage from Juha Salo's car. Juha Salo, Itäralli, stage 6 What can I say about the stages. The stopwatch didn't like our work again, but the stages themselves were awesome! On these kinds of roads you know why you love rallying. In the end of stage six the started some noise from the back of the car and on the road section towards service it started to get worse. We checked the propshaft bolts and they seemed to be tight. The noise seemed to be somehow linked to the propshaft since the noise came an went. It didn't gradually get worse like normally when something is about to explode. We limped to service where the Printsport mechanics were waiting also to help out our own mechanics to diagnose the problem. It turbned that vulcanization of the propshaft had been damaged and it was causing the vibration. Full credit to the mechanics for the service. Diagnosing the problem and changing the propshaft took around 17 minutes. I was still stuffing pasta in my mouth when they reported that the car is good to go.

Stages number 7 and 8 were the same as stages 1 and 2. Except now we drove in the dark. We changed our driving style to be more aggressive and it immediately helped. On those stages the time difference to fastest guys dropped to the same level as in Mikkeli. Also we managed to climb a couple of places on the last two stages to 11th overall. Stil not exactly the result we were looking for. On the positive side we managed to analyze what we were doing wrong and know it in this kind of stages in the future.

The next Finnish championship rally is in the middle of June in Laihia so now it's the time to do some servicing to the Mitsubishi. Obviously we need a new turbo, there are always bushes to be changed, etc etc. Before Laihia we have to get some gravel experience of the car since we haven't driven one meter with it on gravel yet. Hopefully I'll be updating my blog with rallying stuff during April and May even though the championship continues in June.

lauantai 2. maaliskuuta 2013

SM Vaakunaralli, Mikkeli

Few weeks after the retirement in Arctic Rally it was time to throw the monkey of our backs and get a proper start for the season in Mikkeli. Mikkeli is known for fast roads and I was personally looking forward to it. The ride on fast sections would definitely be something different compared to the R2 Fiesta on previous year. The rally started with a compact recce on Friday. It has also been a tradition in Mikkeli that there isn't too much space time during the recce. After the recce we already had to stages in the dark on Friday evening. First one was a proper 15km long forest stage. On that one we didn't really excel. I was nervous with my pace note reading and Jari was also nervous with his driving. So we both fed each others insecurity. We lost surprisingly little on that stage. Apparently it had been difficult to many other crews as well. The second stage was a super special on a horse racetrack. We just drove it cleanly through and headed to evening service. Surprisingly we were 3rd quickest on the super special. The really big suprise was Veli-Pekka Karttunen. The 19 year old youngster was driving his second pace note rally with a beat up renault clio. He was leading SM2 class and was actually 5th overall on the super special. I used the be in the same AKK training team with him in 2011 and I wasn't that surprised to see his pace. I didn't expect him to be so high on the results, but I knew the pace is there.
Picture taken by Valokuu/Kari Kaistinen

 For Saturday we started with a high spirits. We knew for a fact that our speed is better than on Friday's first stage. The first stage on Saturday started really well. We were in our normal working mode. Both the driver and co-driver. Halfway through the 20km stage we caught Jari Ketomaa with his skoda S2000. He had been kissing some snowbanks and his engine air intake was full of snow. He didn't wan't to let us pass and we had to struggle behind him in the snowdust for half the stage. It took a lot of effort to concetrate in our own doing and not to go off the road since you couldn't see very much. In the very end of the stage the road turned faster and there we had to leave more space since on a fast road would have gone of the road for sure. After the finish line I totally lost my nerves and let it all out. The first time ever I have been so pissed off during a rally. Well once in five years isn't that bad to flip. As long as it doesn't develop into a habit. When sitting in a queue for service we talked with Ketomaa for him not letting us pass. He actually admitted that he had known we were behind him and didn't let us pass, because it would have had cost him 10 more seconds. Jolly good fellow. Fair sportmanship and so on. You don't normally see that kind of behaviour in Finnish rally championship since you are stuck with the same guys on all the rallies in the time control points so normally there is a good spirit among the competitors. On stages everybody tries to push, but afterwards it isn't uncommon the competitors to compare car setups or driving techniques. Special stage 3, Mikkeli, tailgating Ketomaa

Picture taken by Valokuu/Kari Kaistinen

Picture taken by Valokuu/Kari Kaistinen

Picture taken by Valokuu/Kari Kaistinen

On the fourth stage we managed to drive a clean run. The incident on the third one was erased from memory and we both had a good feeling after the stage. I really enjoyed the speeds of the evo on that stage. Here is the onboard clip Special stage 4, Mikkeli

Picture taken by Valokuu/Kari Kaistinen
On the fifth and sixth stages it was business as usual. Nothing much to report. Except that in the end of the sixth stage we caught some snow in our own air filter and lost some power. Looking at the stage results after the rally we noticed that we had climbed up basically one position per stage. We finished fifth overall which was a really good result. Teemu Asunmaa behind us was only 2,5 seconds slower so it was very close. The feeling for Itäralli in Joensuu on the 9th of March is very good. We are getting more familiar with the car, Jari is getting more into driving the evo after subaru and I'm getting a bit by bit into the reading rhythm suitable for the fast 4wd car. There definitely is more speed to be found in our team since in Mikkeli we were driving inside our comfort zone and not exploring our limits. The two fastest guys (Juha Salo and Ari "Raaka-Arska" ("Rough Arnold") Vihavainen) have been driving with 4wd cars for decades and their cars in some aspects are better than our international group N spec evo. Calculating the second/km time difference to Juha and Ari provides a good comparison point to us to see our development during this season.

tiistai 29. tammikuuta 2013

Arctic Lapland Rally 2013

The opening round of the Finnish Rally Championship didn't go too well for me and Jari. We got stuck in the snow on the second special stage for fifteen minutes. The snow was over waist deep and it took so long to dig us out that we decided to retire and continue the next day. Unluckily we found out later in the service park that the front differential was acting funnily and it was safer not to continue the rally on the second day. Looking at the bright side of things there wasn't a single dent on the mitsubishi, because of the thick snow. Only broken parts hopefully being a damaged oil cooler and a cracked bumper. After some time with the car people wiser than me can figure out what's wrong with the diff.

On the second stage

Few hundred meters after the first picture
The week in Lapland wasn't all bad though. First of all it was nice to be back in rallies. And spending one week 3 meters from from on another in a hotel room and in a recce car you soon find out if you're going to get a long with the driver/co-driver. We had a lot of fun during the recce. The recce car basically being a center of philosophical discussions and left over jokes. Also the ~ 20 kilometers we did on the stages enforced my belief that the speed is there. Like everybody says the stopwatch tells the truth. Now waiting for   one month and the next rally in Mikkeli to find out what's the truth.

Also me and Jari ordered new really cool racing suits from MIR Raceline. Have to take photos of them in Mikkeli and in the daylight.