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GP Week : Issue 57
SnIPPETS frOM fInland n Gronholm wins again! Seven times Rally Finland winner Marcus Gronholm did not contest the actual event this year, but won the promotional rallysprint run at the Killeri superspecial stage on the Saturday evening. He drove a 580bhp Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, beating Finnish champion rallysprint driver Tomi Hallia in the final. n Tommi Makinen Racing, the Nordic official supplier for Subaru Group N cars, ran the Fiat Grand Punto Super 2000 cars for Kimi Raikkonen and Anton Alen and also opened impressive new premises just outside Jyvaskyla. There was no official comment about what will be the future purpose to which the premises will be put, but there were rumours that Subaru are contemplating development of a Super 2000 car. n Former World Rally Car driver Janne Tuohino returned to the rally. He had entered the ex-Juha Salo Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, the 2008 Group N championship winning car, but arrived with a Peugeot 207 S2000. He was lying third in Group N, behind Hanninen and Alen, on the second day when the clutch failed. n The rally saw the first World Rally Car drive for Matthias Therman, whose family company is the brewery that produces Karjala beer. Karjala is listed as an official supplier to the event organizers … n 90 crews were entered for Neste Oil Rally Finland 2009, and remarkably every one of them started the event, a quite unique achievement. n Munchi’s were only allowed to score points with Villagra’s entry even though they had three entries and even though their number two entry for Matti Rantanen carried the team’s official competition number 10. On this occasion Sebastien Ogier and Evgeniy Novikov were eligible for Citroen Junior points but not Conrad Rautenbach ... Bad choice – Novikov had an appalling event, going off the road three times in seven stages. Hanninen all the way in Group N JUHO Hanninen drove the Skoda Fabia S2000 normally rallied by Patrik Sandell in PCWRC events and Raimund Baumschlager in Austria. He led the Group N category from start to finish. The Fiat of Anton Alen scored two fastest stage times but Juho won all the others. Alen’s teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, gradually improved his speed the more he understood the psychology of rally driving but the car started to sound rough and he went off the road. Best orthodox Group N car was the Impreza N14 of Swedish driver Patrik Flodin. This was the fourth of six events for the five 2008 Pirelli Star Driver winners but four cars suffered engine damage through impacts. Only the South African Jon Williams brought his car to the finish of the event. Prokop takes JWRC title 26-year-old Martin Prokop’s JWRC victory was enough to secure him the honour of being the Czech Republic’s first four-wheel World Champion, a notable achievement after five years of endeavour in the JWRC, in which he finished fifth and third in the two previous seasons. He started driving Suzukis in 2005 before moving to Citroens in 2006, and in 2008 and 2009 he has doubled this programme with a parallel attack in the PCWRC. “For me the big change this year was to stop always thinking about ’championship’ and decide to go fast all the time. In fact I felt as the rally progressed I had to go slower, but actually you can often make more mistakes if you slow down. So I kept on going fast! “And what can be better than to be a champion in Finland? We were really not expecting to be champion already in the middle of summer.” H led the Clio R3 of Guest driver Kalle Pinomaki while his championship rival Michal Kosciuszko had punctures on the second morning which doomed his remaining hopes of the JWRC title. Aaron Burkart had handling troubles on Day 2 which let the Pole up to third place. Kevin Abbring, the JWRC star in Poland, had a bad event and retired off the road, but an impressive fifth place was taken by the German driver Mark Wallenwein on his JWRC debut. Easily the fastest two-wheel-drive car for the second year running was the Honda R3, this time driven by Urmo Aava, though he suffered a long delay with a broken suspension arm.