At WRC round Secto Rally Finland, Emil Lindholm and co-driver Reeta Hämäläinen dominated WRC3, the category for private crews. The newly crowned national rally champions aboard a TGS Worldwide run ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo were a class of their own on the ultra fast gravel tracks in the vicinity of Jyväskylä. Racing through the woods with average speeds sometimes exceeding 120 kph, Lindholm scored eleven WRC3 fastest times on the 19 stages.
During the Friday leg, Lindholm successfully fended off Estonian Egon Kaur as well as ŠKODA stable mates Mikko Heikkilä and Teemu Asunmaa. As the only crew running without any problems, Lindholm/Hämäläinen extended their WRC3 lead to over one minute during Saturday. Meanwhile, Mikko Heikkilä battled with Eerik Pietarinen for runner-up position. When Pietarinen went off the road, Lauri Joona/Mikael Korhonen took over position three and secured a full ŠKODA podium. Pepe Lopez and co-driver Borja Odriozola (ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo) from Spain came home as best non-Finns in WRC3. Seven ŠKODA crews made it into the top 10 of the category.
As Secto Rally Finland was not part of the program for WRC2 points leader Andreas Mikkelsen, the Norwegian and British co-driver Elliott Edmondson of ŠKODA Motorsport supported team Toksport WRT had time to compete in Portugal over the same weekend. By winning Rally Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras, Mikkelsen made a big step in the direction of becoming FIA European Rally Champion of 2021. With his second ERC victory of the season at the wheel of the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, he extended his lead in the overall standings.
Right from the start, Mikkelsen enjoyed a thrilling battle with reigning FIA European Rally Champion Alexey Lukyanuk from Russia and Dani Sordo from Spain. With Sordo out after an early accident, Mikkelsen and Lukyanuk traded times until the midday break on Sunday. When the car of the “Russian Rocket” suffered a mechanical issue, Mikkelsen increased his lead from a couple of seconds to more than two minutes over the remaining stages. Locals Armindo Araújo and Luís Ramalho brought The Racing Factory’s ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo to the finish third overall, joining Mikkelsen and Edmondson on the podium. Four more ŠKODA crews made it into the top 10.
Next WRC round is RallyRACC Rally de España (14-17 October 2021). The Catalonia event will see the WRC debut of young Czech Dominik Stříteský. He will share a Toksport WRT run ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo with co-driver Jiří Hovorka.
Result Secto Rally Finland (WRC3)
1. Lindholm/Hämäläinen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, 2:30:06,5 hrs.
2. Heikkilä/Luhtinen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +1:01.3 min.
3. Joona/Korhonen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +4:56.5 min.
4. Lopez/Odriozola (ESP/ESP), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +5:40.6 min.
5. Tahko/Soininen (FIN/FIN), Hyundai i20, +7:40.9 min.
6. Kaur/Simm (EST/EST), Volkswagen Polo GTI, +11:37.1 min.
Number of the day: 114.8
Secto Rally Finland easily qualifies as fastest gravel rally in the WRC calendar. Although the twisty Harju street stage with two runs had an in this respect “negative” effect, WRC3 winners Emil Lindholm/Reeta Hämäläinen (ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo) averaged 114.8 kph over the 19 stages.
2021 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
Rallye Monte-Carlo 21 – 24 January
Arctic Rally Finland powered by CapitalBox 26 – 28 February
Rally Croatia 22 – 25 April
Vodafone Rally Portugal 20 – 23 May
Rally Italia Sardegna 3 – 6 June
Safari Rally Kenya 24 – 27 June
Rally Estonia 15 – 18 July
Renties Ypres Rally Belgium 13 – 15 August
EKO Acropolis Rally Greece 9 – 12 September
Secto Rally Finland 1 – 3 October
RallyRACC Rally de España 14 – 17 October
FORUM8 ACI Rally Monza 19 – 21 November
Result Rally Serras de Fafe a Felgueiras (overall)
1. Mikkelsen/Edmondson (NOR/GBR), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, 2:19:10.1 hrs.
2. Lukyanuk/Arnautov (RAF/RAF), Citroën C3 Rally2, +2:01.8 min.
3. Araújo/Armalho (POR/POR), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +2:38.9 min.
4. Magalhāes/Magalhāes (POR/POR), Hyundai i20, +3:07.4 min.
5. Solans/Martí (ESP/ESP), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +3:41.4 min.
6. Herczig/Ferencz (HUN/HUN), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +4:07.0 min.
Number of the day: 2
Andreas Mikkelsen and co-driver Elliott Edmondson make it two in a row: Coming from victory at Azores Rally, the Norwegian/British duo wins its second Portuguese ERC rally in two weeks.
2021 FIA European Rally Championship (ERC)
ORLEN Rally Poland 18 – 20 June
Rally Liepāja (Latvia) 1 – 3 July
Rally Roma di Capitale (Italy) 23 – 25 July
Barum Czech Rally Zlín (Czech Republic) 27 – 29 August
Azores Rallye (Portugal) 16 – 18 September
Rally Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras (Portugal) 1 – 3 October
Rally Hungary 22 – 24 October
Rally Islas Canarias (Spain) 18 – 20 November