Several homegrown stars, including newly crowned national champion Emil Lindholm, will be in the thick of the fight for support category honours when Secto Automotive Rally Finland takes place later this week.
WRC2 and WRC3 both feature an abundance of Finnish talent with 2020 WRC3 title winner Jari Huttunen leading the charge in WRC2 in the all-new Hyundai i20 N Rally2 alongside co-driver Mikko Lukka.
Huttunen has never finished outside the WRC2 top two on Rally Finland in three appearances and won the category in 2017. He will look to previous form to help him hit back from a testing accident yesterday (Monday).
“This will be my first WRC2 event on gravel with the Hyundai i20 N Rally 2, so we might face a steep learning curve,” Huttunen said. “I am hoping my existing knowledge of these roads will put me on the front foot, as I have finished on the podium in the past and taken a victory there.”
Teemu Suninen will chase WRC2 success in a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 for the first time following his recent switch from Ford Fiesta power. Suninen, the first AKK Flying Finn Future Star award recipient back in 2014, competes in a Movisport-entered Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 run by the Finnish Printsport team.
“It always feels special to drive at my home rally,” said Suninen. “I can’t wait to get behind the wheel especially when it’s the 70th edition of the rally.”
No fewer than eight Finnish crews are registered for the WRC3 category with Mikko Heikkilä, who led the Finnish championship up until last weekend’s finale, heading the list. He’s followed by last season’s national champion Teemu Asunmaa and Emil Lindholm, who made up for his 2020 title defeat to Asunmaa by clinching the coveted crown for the first time on last weekend’s Kokkolan UA 60-v Ralli.
“It feels good, especially since some of the rivals this week are the same names we battled during the weekend and it feels good to have been in front of them in the Finnish championship,” said Lindholm, who is co-driven by Reeta Hämäläinen. “It makes life easier not only having a good achievement under the belt but also the experience from last weekend [will be important] because usually we don’t rally so much in the cold temperatures we’ll face this week.“
“Winning the Finnish championship has been one of many targets and to bring it home with MRF, a new tyre brand in the championship, makes it even a bit more special. It doesn’t make up for last year but it brings some consolation.”
Lauri Joona, the 2020 AKK Flying Finn Future Star, will step up to Rally2 level for the first time when he contests his home round of WRC3 in a Škoda Fabia. Compatriots Eerik Pietarinen, who won WRC2 on Rally Finland in 2018, Jari Huuhka, Juuso Metsälä and Riku Tahko are also in contention for WRC3 points on the Jyväskylä-based Secto Automotive Rally Finland from October 1-3.