Car # 21
Final Placing: DNF
AW Rally Team
Driver: Antony Warmbold (D)
Co driver: Gemma Price (GB)
Vehicle: Y3 FMC (Ford Focus WRC02)
Leg One: Warmbold had a good start to the Neste Rally Finland, enjoying a clear run through the morning's stages, the only glitch when the co-drivers window shattered near the end of SS2 "We didn't appear to hit anything, but all of a sudden the window just shattered showering me with glass, but luckily most of it fell outside the car," said Gemma Price. Despite a small cut to her hand and a little unplanned 'air-conditioning' the duo managed to clear the following stage and get back to service. Happy with the performance of the car throughout the day they continued to set comparable times. "It's amazing how much effect the rain had on the road surface but we still had very good grip. The brakes overheated in SS5, so I took it easier on the next two stages as they were starting to lose their bite. The car is so much better and I have a good feeling for it now -- it's about finding the traction but also keeping your foot down! There are very deep ruts in the road now and these can be dangerous. You don't see them when you're far away -- and at one stage we almost got thrown off the road," Warmbold coped well though to finish the day 21st overall
Leg Two: Warmbold opted for a cautious approach to Leg Two. "We went very carefully -- when you don't know the road you don't want to take too many risks. It's very impressive out there -- there a lot of big jumps!" Warmbold enjoyed a good run through the morning's stages and was happy with the performance of his Ford Focus. Unfortunately the notorious large jump in SS13 Urria was to prove his undoing. The car sustained a heavy landing on its nose, splitting the bottom radiator hose and putting a sudden end to his rally. Warmbold was lying 19th overall when he retired. "Of course it is disappointing for us not to get to the end of this event as we were really getting into a good rhythm with the car. We have learned a lot this weekend and will now concentrate on preparing for our outing in Australia next month," he said.
Car # 23
Final Placing: 7th Overall
Driver: Janne Tuohino (FIN)
Co driver: Jukka Aho (FIN)
Vehicle: EX02 OBD (Ford Focus WRC02)
Leg One: Tuohino, driving his new Ford Focus RS WRC02 for the first time, was determined to fight his way up the leaderboard on this event, however getting caught behind Harri Rovanpera on the first day of the rally was not in his plans! "Harri hit a rock and damaged his car so we lost some time when we caught him in the stage but thankfully we managed to get past him. In the next stage we stalled when I came to a junction in too high a gear and, when I used the handbrake to turn, the engine cut. It started on the second attempt -- we lost only a few seconds, but it seemed like a lifetime!" he said. During the second set of stages a vibration developed in the right rear tyre so he backed off for the last two stages. Tuohino was delighted with his first day in his new car, the only problem being a cracked windscreen during the super special -- which was quickly changed at final service. The duo finished 9th overall on leg one.
Leg Two: Ready to further his assault on the leaderboard, the young Finn was keen to get some good clear runs through Leg Two. However his morning's efforts were hampered by fine grit caught in the roof vent of his car from the super special stage the night before. "When I put my foot down for the start of SS11, it fell into the cockpit and I got a lot in my eyes which didn't make for pleasant driving at all." Opting for a softer compound tire in the morning, Tuohino switched to a harder compound for the second set but found it gave him no advantage. "We tackled the last set of stages on the softer compound, which in the conditions gave us much better grip. We have had an interesting battle with Sebastian Lindholm all day and we are looking forward to continuing that tomorrow. We will push to keep him behind us and if that helps us catch Tommi Makinen that will be a bonus, but our aim is to at least stay where we are," Tuohino kept a level head despite the pressure from Lindholm, completing the day in 7th overall.
Leg Three: With the rough stages littered with rocks, it was no surprise for Tuohino to break a wheel during the second stage of the morning, however his Michelin ATS worked perfectly to keep the car steady on the road. "We seem to be on a roll today -- the car is performing exactly as I want it to and Jukka's notes are fantastic. We will continue to push on the last three stages -- we're still seventh, but we're not giving up on 6th without a fight!" The team ensured the car was in top condition for the remaining 50 kilometres, changing dampers, discs and pads during the morning service. Tuohino enjoyed an excellent run through the final three stages and managed to keep Lindholm behind him, to finish 7th overall.
Car # 25
Final Placing: DNF
Rally Rent Europe
Driver: Kai Kuistila (FIN)
Co driver: Kari Jokinen (FIN)
Vehicle: EX51 UAB (Ford Focus WRC02)
Leg One: Kuistila had a 'cracking' start to Leg One, breaking his windscreen during the opening super special. "Unfortunately there are often a lot of stones thrown up by your competitor in this type of stage -- you have to expect the odd crack! Luckily we were able to replace it in Parc Ferme," Following his pre-event test last week, Kuistila ran on a new suspension and transmission tuning for the Rally and opted for a steady start. "With three days hard work ahead it is best to take a little time to get used to the way the car handles now. Also I had never driven SS2 and SS3 before, so I didn't want to do anything stupid. We are very encouraged by the performance of the car and learning more about it with every kilometre," After breaking a damper during the middle set of stages, the duo were lucky not to incur a time penalty out of service -- checking in with just 3 seconds to spare. Unfortunately Kuistila's rally was to come to an unexpected early end. He was lying 20th overall when he retired before the start of SS9 due to an oil leak.
Car # 27
Final Placing: 22nd overall
Driver: Jari Viita (FIN)
Co driver: Teppo Leino (FIN)
Vehicle: V9 FMC (Ford Focus WRC01)
Leg One: Renowned for his good humour and positive outlook, Viita enjoyed an excellent run through the morning's stages. "I am very happy with the car, we have had no problems, the sun is shining and it's a fantastic day. The only bugbear I have is a personal dislike of SS5. Every year I ask the organisers to leave it out... but it is still there!! I can never seem to get a good run through it -- and this year it disappointed me yet again... it is not a favourite of ours! There is a lot of mud today because of the rain -- makes it difficult to find the line," However during SS9 a heavy landing damaged the sump and the duo had to nurse the car back to service. The team worked incredibly hard to patch the sump to get it through the end of day super special and then spent the final 45-minute service of the day to ensure it would make it through the second leg. "The team has done an incredible job and we are now keeping our fingers crossed for the rest of the weekend," said Viita, finishing Leg One 22nd overall.
Leg Two: Unfortunately Leg Two was to prove to be a difficult day for the amiable Finn. During the mornings opening stage he damaged the front right wheel, splitting the rim in two and the heat causing the tire to catch fire. This also affected the steering and, unable to corner, the duo careered straight off the road, beaching the Focus on a pile of boulders. "There wasn't a wheel touching the ground, which made it easy to change the tire, but unfortunately we weren't going anywhere either! The spectators were fantastic -- we had about 150 of them who managed to lift the car off the rocks and get us back on the road which took about 15 minutes," The resulting impact caused considerable damage, pushing the crossmember back and breaking the steering rack, however despite this, Viita managed to nurse his car through SS12 and back to service. The team worked very hard to repair what they could on the car and he was able to continue on at a steady pace through the final set of stages of the day to finish 28th overall.
Leg Three: Viita, again showing his well-known sense of fun, jokingly asked the stewards for a three minute gap between him and rally leader Markko Martin whom he was running behind on the last day. "I didn't want to catch him in the stages this morning and ruin my clear run!" he quipped. Happy with his Ford Focus, Viita praised his team. "They have excelled themselves. While the car is certainly far from showroom perfect after the battering it took yesterday, it is driving like brand new and I couldn't be happier. Tomorrow is a work day for me... so today is my last day of 'play' and I am enjoying myself immensely," Viita went on to have a trouble free run through the remaining three stages of the day. "I have had a great weekend -- and I was very pleased that Rally Finland winner Markko Martin didn't prove to be a problem for me today!" he joked, delighted with his 22nd overall final placing.
Car # 33
Final Placing: 23rd Overall
Driver: Alistair Ginley (GB)
Co Driver: Rory Kennedy (IRL)
Vehicle: EJ02 KMO (Ford Focus RS WRC01)
Sponsors: Carella, Pirelli
Leg One: Opting for a cautious start for his first Rally Finland in the Focus, Ginley was determined to finish this event. "It's all about experience and I came here to cross the finish line. Unfortunately we had such a bad vibration in this morning's stages that it felt like we were driving on square wheels. Also as the surface is so sandy the car feels sluggish -- like we're driving through the surface rather than on top of it. I've not had this situation in the past and it takes a bit of getting used to," Unfortunately the day did not improve and a burst pipe during the next set of stages saw the duo lose all hydraulics. "We went into manual gear change so we could at lease keep moving and found that the centre diff pipe had split and all the fluid had drained out. It really has not been our day. I can't put my finger on why we're so slow -- we are trying hard and thought our times were good, so it really doesn't make any sense," Frustrated, Ginley ended Leg One 33rd overall.
Leg Two: Again Leg Two had it's frustrations for Ginley, who like colleague Antony Warmbold had a heavy landing after the legendary jump on SS13 Urria, the sump guard taking the force of the impact and splitting the radiator pipe, however the duo managed to get the car back to the following service. "We were hoping for a run of better luck following that, but half way through the second run through Ouninpohja our power steering belt stripped and we lost power steering -- it was a difficult stage and I was very tired by the end of it." Unfortunately luck was not to smile on Ginley through the last set of stages for the day, when they developed a bad vibration in all four tires halfway through the longest stage of the rally. "Up until the power steering went we were doing better -- getting faster and finding more of a rhythm. It has been a disappointing day, but we are still there and we are determined to finish the event," he said. Ginley ended leg two 24th overall.
Leg Three: Determined to have a better day than the two previous Legs, Ginley enjoyed two good runs through the opening stages of the day. "I really don't have any good memories of this weekend so far and was hoping not to add to them... but unfortunately on the start line of the last of the three morning stages the gearbox decided it was time to play up. It would not select a gear, but chose it's own instead, leaving me with 1st, 3rd and 4th only so I had no choice but to use the manual system," In the end, Ginley opted to stay in 4th gear for the whole stage and concentrate on getting through it rather than try anything heroic and was able to get back to service where the team changed his gearbox. The last three stages proved to be the easiest of the rally for the duo, who got through with no problems at all. "The gearing was great, the car was going very well and I was beginning to get into a good rhythm. It is just a shame that it all starting coming together at the end for us, and not at the beginning," said a philosophical Ginley, who was happy to finish 23rd overall.