› At the nineth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, 2021 WRC2 title holder Andreas Mikkelsen and co-driver Torstein Eriksen (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) aim for their third category win of the season
› Toksport WRT teammates Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) are back in the fight for the WRC2 championship
› Local heroes Sami Pajari/Enni Mälkönen (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) want to build on their second position in WRC2 at the recent Rally Estonia
Mladá Boleslav, 2 August 2023 – After a late start into the season, 2021 WRC2 Champion Andreas Mikkelsen is back in the fight for the 2023 title. Driving team Toksport WRT’s Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 to WRC2 victories at the world championship’s round in Italy and Estonia, the Norwegian holds second position in the overall standings. Also candidates for a WRC2 podium position at the upcoming Rally Finland (3-6 August 2023) are Toksport WRT teammates Sami Pajari from Finland, who finished WRC2 second in Estonia, and Briton Gus Greensmith, who just like Mikkelsen has already scored two WRC2 victories this season. Meanwhile, Swedish youngster Oliver Solberg takes to the wheel of another Toksport WRT run Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 without competing for WRC2 points.
It's an impressive comeback: Andreas Mikkelsen, WRC2 Champion two years ago, had planned a limited campaign only for the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship. So far, the Norwegian has contested not more than three of the eight rounds already run. But after a third place in WRC2 at Rally Portugal and two category victories in Italy and Estonia, Mikkelsen clearly has appetite for more. “The Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 and I are becoming a perfect match. The car is performing very well on fast gravel roads. Coming to Finland, I see no reason not to attack for another strong result,” he says.
The WRC2 championship regulations allow each driver to nominate only seven out of 13 WRC rounds as individual points scoring events. Out of these, only the best six results count towards the championship classification. With 69 points from three events, Andreas Mikkelsen enjoys a strategically good position compared to his competitors. Currently WRC2 second overall, he trails leader Yohan Rossel by eight points – but the Frenchman has already scored at four rallies.
Mikkelsen’s Toksport WRT teammate Gus Greensmith is in a similar position, albeit not quite as comfortable. Together with Swedish co-driver Jonas Andersson, the Briton has driven a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 to WRC2 victories in Mexico and Portugal. A sixth place from Croatia adds up to 62 points for Greensmith, from three nominated events so far. Sharing another Toksport WRT run Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, Sami Pajari and co-driver Enni Mälkönen have not scored a WRC2 win yet. But after a career best second place at Rally Estonia, the Finnish youngsters are among the favourites for at least a WRC2 podium at their home rally.
More Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 crews to watch during Rally Finland: Mikołaj Marczyk/Szymon Gospodarczyk from Poland, who demonstrated their gravel skills with a fine fifth place in the highly competitive WRC2 field at Rally Estonia, as well as locals Jari Huttunen/Antti Haapala and Mikko Heikkilä/Samu Vaaleri. With 16 of the 28 competitors entered into WRC2 relying on the Rally2 version of the Fabia, Škoda again is the strongest brand in this category.
Oliver Solberg, currently holding third overall in the WRC2 classification, chose not to nominate Rally Finland as one of his points scoring events. “In recent years, this rally always was difficult for me, also bringing a lot of bad luck. This time, I simply want to enjoy the beautiful stages and learn as much as I can,” explained the 21-year-old son of former FIA World Rally Champion Petter Solberg. As usual, Solberg shares the Toksport WRT run Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 with British co-driver Elliott Edmondson.
Rally Finland offers 22 special stages totalling 320,56 kilometres mostly on fast and smooth gravel roads featuring numerous jumps. Due to the high-speed forest stages, the Finnish round of the FIA World Rally Championship is often referred to as “Finnish Gravel Grand Prix”. A Super Special Stage on the streets close to the rally centre in Jyväskylä kicks off the action on Thursday evening (3 August). Friday leg will run over nine stages of around 104,76 kilometres. The longest day of the rally will be the Saturday with eight stages covering 160,68 kilometres. Sunday (6 August) will bring the final decision with four stages and additional 51,64 kilometres. The podium is scheduled for 2h15 pm local at the ski resort of Himos.
Did you know, that…
...the event first took place in 1951 under the name of “Jyväskylän Suurajot” roughly translating to “Race around Jyväskylä”?
...the event was called the “Rally of the Thousand Lakes” from 1959 onwards, before it was re-named to Rally Finland in 1997?
...in 1973 the “Rally of the Thousand Lakes” was part of the inaugural World Rally Championship?
…Finnish drivers won 55 out of the past 71 editions of their home round?
...the biggest jump ever recorded was performed in 1975 by former rally cross driver Jusso Kynsilehto, who (with legendary British rally journalist Martin Holmes as co-driver) was airborne for 72 metres? Unfortunately, there was no road on the landing spot and they rolled heavily.
...in 2004 Petter Solberg, father of today’s Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 driver Oliver Solberg, drove the world-famous 33 kilometres long Ouninpojah stage with an average speed of 130 kph?
Standings WRC2/drivers (before Rally Finland)
1 Yohan Rossel (FRA), Citroën, 77 points (from 4 rallies)
2 Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR), Škoda, 69 points (from 3 rallies)
3 Oliver Solberg (SWE), Škoda, 64 points (from 5 rallies)
4 Gus Greensmith (GBR), Škoda, 62 points (from 3 rallies)
Standings WRC2/Teams (before Rally Finland)
1 Toksport WRT (Škoda), 110 points (from 3 rallies)
2 Hyundai Motorsport N, 98 points (from 4 rallies)
3 Toksport WRT 3 (Škoda), 93 points (from 3 rallies)
2023 FIA World Rally Championship
Rallye Monte-Carlo 19-22 January
Rally Sweden 9-12 February
Guanajuato Rally México 16-19 March
Croatia Rally 20-23 April
Rally de Portugal 11-14 May
Rally Italia Sardegna 1-4 June
Safari Rally Kenya 22-25 June
Rally Estonia 20-23 July
Rally Finland 3-6 August
Acropolis Rally Greece 7-10 September
Rally Chile 28 September-1 October
Central Europe Rally (CZE/AUT/DEU) 26-29 October
Rally Japan 16-19 November