The final round of the winter season Finnish Rally Championship (FRC) was held in good conditions in Eastern Finland last weekend (03 March). Yuasa backed Team Kasing secured 10th place in the overall standings at the end of the 3 winter rallies, their best result to date.
The 100 SS-kilometre-long route belonged to the best of the FRC-series and the rollercoaster-like roads guaranteed that the one day Eastern Rally was packed with speed and jumps. On Saturday, the race kicked off with a 13 kilometre fast-paced SS1 ”Kauhee” which saw some impressive WRC Neste Rally style jumps right at the beginning.
“The morning opening run was tough going right from the get-go and the first jump at the beginning of the SS was a flight we’ve never experienced in the Skoda”, co-driver Henri Ania laughed at the stage finish.
The opening of the rally gave a permission to expect an upgrade in the final standings compared to the earlier winter rallies. The first three special stages, totaling to around 40 special stage kilometers, were also reflective of the evolving competition standings. The lead of the competitive FRC1 class was going fast, but the following afternoon offered even more speed.
Commenting on the performance of their 9th position in FRC1 class, driver Jukka Kasi said, “the leading drivers are going really fast, I don’t think we are quite able to match that speed. Before the rally, Henri and I set a goal of achieving the season’s best ranking and thus far everything is looking pretty good.
“Our touch improved during the morning and the SS3 “Romo” was definitely some of the best driving we’ve been doing on the snow this season. We set out for the remaining 60 kilometres on a good note. Let’s see if we succeed in improving out ranking, although there’s a lot of pressure from behind”.
The 35 kilometre-long SS4 ”Oskola” was the longest special stage of the rally mixing together slow and fast sections with crossings and jumps. No wonder the stage is sometimes called “Ouninpohja” (the legendary WRC Neste Rally Finland SS) of the Eastern Finland and is liked by most of the drivers.
“We were now trying to avoid unnecessary risks by driving slightly more cautiously on the sections with fast-paced crossings. On the clear sections we were, by contrast, doing some serious driving. Have to be pleased with 8th fastest time on this demanding special stage, even though the gap to the leading pair grew bigger than expected”, Kasi analysed the longest special stage of the rally.
With the afternoon slowly turning into nightfall the race neared its last two special stages totaling to 23 kilometres. As the situation on the leader board began to slowly settle the chances of bettering one’s standings by driving began to diminish. Thus, the main goal became ensuring that no-one from behind would come to threaten the achieved ranking.
Summing up their winter season, Kasi and Ania concluded, “Our goal was to make the last two special stages of the rally an easy run, but the slipperiness of the road compared to the previous stages came as a surprise. The ‘trying to secure our standing’ was replaced with trying to adjust our speed to avoid mistakes but at the same time to prevent anyone driving behind from catching.
“The 10th place in the overall standings after 3 winter rallies of the internationally competitive FRC 1 class is definitely something to be satisfied with. Big thanks to the Printsport’s professional team for the winter season. It’s great to be driving when everything is running smoothly!”
The FRC continues in May with the season’s first summer rally.
Watch the full video summary of the rally below:
Photo Credit: Taneli Niinimäki, Hannu Rainamo and Jarno Saari