Rally Finland, one of the iconic events in world rallying, has just wrapped up, and two ex-APRC competitors, Jussi Valimaki and Naren Kumar, have experienced vastly different results in the event.
They were competitors in the APRC last year, but for 2008 Kumar landed a drive in the Production World Rally Championship with Team Sidvin, while Valimaki returned to his native Finland to defend the national Group A championship title.
Rally Finland is run over roads near Jyvaskyla in central Finland, just over 100 kms from Valimaki’s home town of Tampere. And local knowledge rally helps at Rally Finland, with Valimaki upstaging many of the P-WRC regulars after being given a ‘wild card’ entry for the event.
20th outright at the end of day 1, Valimaki continued to climb through the field on Saturday after both Juha Salo and Jari Ketomaa crashed on stage 16. That elevated him to 3rd in P-WRC, behind fellow Mitsubishi drivers Juho Hanninen and Patrik Flodin.
And even though he was just over a minute behind Flodin, Valimaki pushed hard on the final morning to try and finish one place better. “Halfway through Lankamaa (SS22) we suffered a puncture in the left front tyre…our jack is broken so we weren’t able to change it. I was trying hard to catch Patrik and hit the same stone as him.”
The gap was too large to make up and Valimaki settled for third of the P-WRC entries. “We didn’t have much time to prepare for this rally and to get here is fantastic.”
However, during post-event scrutineering, Flodin’s Lancer was found to have an illegal turbo restrictor fitted to it. Consequently, he was excluded from the final results, elevating Jussi into 2nd place, with Jari Ketomaa taking the final podium spot.
Meanwhile, Narens first visit to Rally Finland wasn’t been so happy, forced to retire after stage 10 due to an undisclosed engine failure. With just two stages to complete day 1, Naren was placed 14th in the P-WRC field (45th outright) and had maintained a steady pace on the fast and unfamiliar Finnish roads.
But the engine in the Team Sidvin Subaru failed at the end stage 9, and problem severe enough that a day 2 restart was out of the question. Not the way he would have liked to finish the event, but the Kumar was upbeat about this first visit to Rally Finland. “We did pretty OK in the morning today. The route is straightforward in patches, then there are jumps and sharp curves. It’s difficult to judge and that’s why I couldn’t push for more. We took the jumps easier. I rate our performance today as reasonably good.”
For Naren, he and the Team Sidvin crew will pack up and prepare for Rally New Zealand, which begins on the last weekend of August, the same weekend Jussi contests the next round of the Finnish national series, SM Uusikaupunkirally.