Jussi Valimaki, the 2005 APRC champion, has been overtaken in the race for points at the final event of the Finnish national rally championship in Mikkeli. Held 200km to the west of his home base of Tampere, Valimaki was unable to defend his Group-A national title on the fast stages that made up the SM Vaakuna Rally.
Although Valimaki had held the lead in Group A midway through the season, the final two events on the Finnish calendar were more suited to the ex-WRC cars of his competitors. And it was WRC cars that made up the top five finishers in Mikkeli, Valimaki’s sixth place not enough to hold off Ari Vihavainen who took third outright and the championship honours.
“Second place (in the championship) is not such a shame, even though I was not able to defend the title I won last year.”
“I should have driven faster than Vihavainen in Mikkeli, but we could not match his speed…Ari earned the championship title totally. Silver tastes fine at the end of a difficult season”, Valimaki reflected after the event.
“There have been the four different co-drivers in my car during the seven rounds of the series. But in spite of the difficulties, we’ve have had a really funny season. Thanks to all my team, as well my sponsors. I’ll take a deep breath and enjoy the silver medal!”
The event marks not only the end of the season, but the final event for his ‘home-built’ Group A Lancer Evo 8, which will not be eligible to contest the 2009 championship. For details of Jussi’s season, and photos from all the events, head over to jussivalimaki.com.
Photos courtesy of jussivalimaki.com and Jarno Saari.
SM Vaakuna Rally 2008, Mikkeli:
1. Timo Mäenpää & Carl-Johan Wolff, Skoda Octavia WRC, 46.25;2mins
2. Jukka Ketomäki & Jarkko Alanen, Skoda Octavia WRC, +1,8sec
3. Ari Vihavainen & Asko Sairanen, Ford Focus RS WRC, +3,1sec
4. Jukka Hiltunen & Jarkko Kalliolepo, Ford Focus RS WRC, +5,9sec
5. Seppo Kopra & Matti-Jussi Partanen, Toyota Corolla WRC, +41,2sec
6. Jussi Välimäki & Kai Tarkiainen, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII, +1.46;1sec
Final Championship Group A Top-5:
1. Ari Vihavainen, Ford Focus RS WRC, 82 pts
2. Jussi Välimäki, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII, 77 pts
3. Jukka Hiltunen, Ford Focus RS WRC, 65 pts
4. Timo Pulkkinen, Subaru Impreza WRX, 33 pts
5. Jukka Ketomäki, Skoda Octavia WRC, 32 pts