Popular APRC driver Jussi Valimaki has bounced back in the Finnish Rally Championship, with an outright win at the third and final winter round of his national series.
Back to defend his 2007 Group-A Finnish title, it was the first time Valimaki and his co-driver Jarkko Kalliolepo had managed to claim an overall event victory, completing the Tahko SPA SM-rally more than 11 seconds ahead of current Group-A leader Ari Vihavainen (Ford Focus RS WRC01).
The rally was held in perfect winter conditions, sub-zero temperatures, bright sunshine and huge snow banks. “I have won group-A (before), but this was my first overall victory in the championship. We didn’t expect to be fastest…our goals were set for highest podium position in group-A.”
Following the engine dramas that forced his retirement from round two of the series, Valimaki employed engine-wiz Juha Martikainen to produce a new group-A engine for his Lancer Evo 8. “(The) new engine is completely different than previous ones. I didn’t get good feeling (in the pre-event tests). However the stage times in the rally told us completely different story”.
Valimaki now sits second in the Group-A championship, just five points behind Vihavainen. The Finnish series now takes a break until the middle of June, with the first of four gravel events.
Final results Tahko SPA SM-ralli, Nilsiä:
1. Jussi Valimaki & Jarkko Kalliolepo, Lancer Evo VIII Gp.A, 1.06.45;5
2. Ari Vihavainen & Asko Sairanen, Ford Focus RS WRC’01 Gp.A, +11.4
3. Jari Ketomaa & Miika Teiskonen, Subaru Impreza WRX STi 2008, Gp.N, +16.0