“Winter wonderland” doesn’t exaggerate the conditions, the second round of the FIA World Rally Championship faces in Rovaniemi close to the Polar Circle. Arctic Rally Finland (26 – 28 February 2021) started under perfect winter weather with two runs over the 31.05 kilometres long test “Sarriojärvi”, the second one in the dark. Coming back to the evening service, WRC2 overall leader Andreas Mikkelsen and co-driver Ola Fløene were listed third in the category. The ŠKODA Motorsport supported Norwegians aboard the Toksport WRT entered ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo collected a slim 16.3 seconds deficit to category leaders Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (FIN/FIN), who won the WRC2 championship in 2016 for ŠKODA Motorsport.
Posting the third fastest time in SS1, Andreas Mikkelsen was not really happy. “The tyres were going off towards the end,” he said. The Norwegian was referring to the 384 tungsten-tipped studs on each of his special snow tyres, which are only used during this event. “Otherwise we had no issues, a clear run.” Toksport WRT team mate Eyvind Brynildsen was all smiles. “That’s the best you can do with your clothes on,” he joked after his first WRC kilometres since October last year.
ŠKODA crews dominate category WRC3, reserved for pure private crews. Local heroes Emil Lindholm/Mikael Korhonen (ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo) go as leaders into the second leg on Saturday, followed by fellow Finns Teemu Asunmaa/Marko Salminen (ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo). Former FIA World Rallycross Champion Mattias Ekström (SWE), driving his own ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, reached the finish of the Friday in seventh position in WRC3. Eight of the interim Top 10 in WRC3 trust in ŠKODA.
Arctic Rally Finland continues on Saturday with six stages covering 144.04 kilometres, making it by far the longest leg of the event. Temperatures are expected to stay around zero degrees, promising another day of perfect winter rallying.
Standings Arctic Rally Finland after Leg 1 (WRC2)
1. Lappi/Ferm (FIN/FIN), VW Polo GTI Rally2, 33:18.9 Min.
2. Gryazin/Aleksandrov (RAF/RAF), VW Polo GTI Rally 2, +13.6 sec.
3. Mikkelsen/Fløene (NOR/NOR), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +16.3 sec.
4. Brynildsen/ Gulbæk Engan (NOR/NOR), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +42.2 sec.
5. Fourmaux/Jamoul (FRA/BEL), Ford Fiesta Rally2, +46.3 sec.
6. Veiby/Andersson (NOR/SWE), Hyundai NG i20 Rally2, +1:35.8 min.
Number of the day: 37.5
21 ŠKODA customer crews started Arctic Rally Finland, making the Czech brand the most popular not only amongst the teams running Rally2 cars but also in general. Of the 56 cars allowed to start, exactly 37.5 per cent sport the ŠKODA logo.
2021 FIA World Rally Championship
Rallye Monte-Carlo 21 – 24 January
Arctic Rally Finland 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
Rally Finland 29 July – 1 August
Renties Ypres Rally Belgium 13 – 15 August
COPEC Rally Chile 9 – 12 September
RallyRACC Rally de España 14 – 17 October
Rally Japan 11 –14 November