Spectacular yumps, breath-taking speed and challenging special stages: All this and more was mastered by the two MINI WRC crews who made it to the finish of the Rally Finland.
Rally Finland’s special stage schedule certainly does not lack variety. Tight, twisty sections follow on from flowing, fast segments, some of which see drivers reach speeds of 120 km/h. Then there are the ‘yumps’ such as the famous Urrian Hyppyjä, which launch the crews for breath-taking distances. Spectators attending the Rally Finland are certainly spoiled for choice. However, the World Rally Championship’s most northerly round demands utmost concentration from competitors, and is certainly one of the most challenging events on the WRC calendar. Every competitor who reaches the finish is entitled to give himself a pat on the back. This includes two of the three MINI John Cooper Works WRC crews to have originally taken the start of the 2012 Rally Finland.
18 Special stages and 302,82 timed kilometres were mastered by Armindo Araujo and Paulo Nobre and their respective co-drivers over the three days before they drove their MINI WRCs across the line. That they faced various challenges on their ways to the finish is obvious. However, once there, the elation at having completed the task with flying colours overcame them. “It was simply fantastic to drive these wonderful stages here in Finland,” said Paulo of the WRC Team MINI Portugal. It was a case of third time successful for the Brazilian, who was forced to retire early from the event in 2010 and 2011 – then still driving a Mitsubishi. This year, driving a MINI WRC, Paulo made it to the finish.
Armindo Araujo: Rhythm found.
Armindo Araujo made amends on his final day in Finland, having battled with his set-up and pace notes on the first two days, and thus experienced difficulty in finding his rhythm. However, on Saturday Armindo reported: “Everything is going a lot better.” After a few technical adjustments the WRC Team MINI Portugal technicians had found the right set-up for Armindo. Not even a broken steering rod, which was replaced during the next service halt after failing on the 16th stage, prevented the Portuguese driver from reaching the finish.
Riku Tahko, was, though, truly unlucky to not be classified as finisher making a truly remarkable debut, one which lasted until the penultimate stage in Finland. In his first event in a MINI WRC, the Finn led the other MINI WRC crews on home soil, and was thus totally satisfied with both his performance and that of his newfound friend, the MINI WRC. Everything went off perfectly for Riku until the 17th stage, when he left the road shortly before the first timing split. The damage to the car proved too severe for Riku to continue on the rally. Still, the 27-year-old could be proud of his debut in the MINI WRC, and certainly impressed the TOK Sport Team with his performance in Finland, which should in turn lead to further outings.
Sébastien Loeb once again proved unstoppable at the sharp end of the rally. The reigning world champion delivered a perfect performance from the first stage of the Rally Finland to the last, in the process thwarting the attacks of team-mate Mikko Hirvonen, who ultimately finished second, 6.1 seconds adrift of Loeb, and ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala, who completed the podium in Finland. MINI Motorsport congratulates all competitors on a superb WRC round. All Rally Finland information and updates are, as always, available on Facebook.com/MINImotorsport and Twitter.com/MINImotorsport.
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