Going into the final round, held near the regional city of Mikkeli, south-east of Jyvaskyla, Valimaki lead the Group A category, but only by a single point from Jarmo Mikkonen.
From the opening stage, Valimaki and Mikkonen tried to pressure each other by setting fast split times. But Valimaki soon ran into problems, losing 1st and 2nd gears after just six kilometers. The problem couldn’t be solved during service, and Valimaki was forced to contest the rest of the event with just three gears.
That provided an opportunity for Mikkonen, but he was having problems of his own; an off on stage 1 saw him stuck in a ditch. He did manage to get back onto the road, and during the following stages took the lead in Group A, Valimaki struggling on with just three gears.
But with just the transport back to service park to complete the event, the gearbox in Mikkonen’s Peugeot 206 WRC failed, leaving he stuck beside the road.
Mikkonen’s bad luck allowed Valimaki to complete the series seven points clear of Kari Ali-Rantala, and take the Finniah national title for the first time.
For more information and photos, check out jussivalimaki.com.