Kiwis Brian Green and Fleur Pedersen have started the 2009 rally season in unfamiliar territory, at the Arctic Rally in Finland’s far north.
For the APRC regulars, competing in a Clo Racing Lancer EVO IX, it was a brand new experience with brand new pitfalls. “It was a very exciting rally for us”, commented Pedersen after the rally. “We learnt about snow banks and the helpfulness of Finnish spectators!!”
“On stage three, which was run in the dark, we ran off the road on a tight left-hander after a very fast section. Straight away there were spectators running to our aid, grabbing our shovels from the car, and tying a tow rope to the back of the car. After about seven minutes of digging, pushing and pulling the car, we were able to regain the road. The shovels were thrown in the back and we were on our way! Funnily enough, we started with two shovels and ended with 3!”
Another off-course excursion on stage five saw Green lose a little more time, but again spectators were more than happy to help push them back onto the road.
By the end of the first day the pair were in a creditable 30th place. But the second day held less drama, and the #50 Lancer EVO climbed a few placed up the leaderboard to finish the event in 24th.
“We were both absolutely wrapped to finish the rally and Brian is already talking about coming up again next year. Special thanks to Jussi Valimaki for all his help, and to Jouni Arolainen who we will see rallying in New Zealand later in the year”.
The rally was won by Juha Salo in another EVO, 2005 APRC champ Jussi Valimaki finished in fifth place, while Ferrari F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen, driving a Fiat Punto, completed the event in 13th.
Photos from Arctic Rally 2009 courtesy of arcticrally.fi