Steve Røkland and co-driver Kim Hjalmarsen drove to the Klasse 1 Silver medal in the Norwegian Rally Championship this weekend.
The Kongsvinger duo had been aiming for victory on the final round of the season at Rally Hedemarken. They started the first two stages with a comfortable pace and were right where they should be – only 2 seconds adrift of the lead going into the final service.
The plan was to attack on SS3, and the pairing started with a furious pace until running wide on a fast right-hander some 25 km into the stage. There appeared no immediate damage, and the duo made it back to the stage with little time loss. Unfortunately, the incident bent the rear suspension arm making the handling of Røkland’s Ford Fiesta R2 almost impossible to drive.
Before the rally, Røkland was 16 points behind leader Frank Tore Larsen, but held a 14 point advantage over third-placed man Petter Rolfsen. Regardless of the result, the 20-year-old was guaranteed the Bronze medal and would win the Gold if Larsen were to finish five or more places adrift.
“I knew it was going to be difficult, but nothing ventured nothing gained,” said Røkland. “Stranger things have happened in rally and as we saw at Telemark, anything can happen! As we were guaranteed a medal, we decided to go for the Gold and tried to put the pressure on Frank Tore [Larsen]. Unfortunately, it didn’t go our way this time.”
During service the team did a fantastic job to make the Fiesta driveable again and Røkland made it through the remaining stages to claim the Silver medal.
“I am happy with the Silver medal,” said Røkland. “Things have certainly not gone my way this year and there has been little training in the car. I have lived in England and driven home, which is never the optimal situation but we made the best of it.”
This year has also seen Røkland run a Ford Fiesta R1 in the British Rally Championship and this weekend will see him graduate to the R2 for the final round of the championship.
“I have run some selected rounds of the British Championship this year with a R1, and now I want to measure myself against the English drivers with the R2. The goal is always to win, but I’m going to judge my pace on the first stage – which will be run in the dark! Rallies in England are almost twice as long as those in Norway and this pleases me!”
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