Five teams supported by M-Sport's customer programme will contest the Rally Finland, round nine of the FIA 2003 World Rally Championship -- German Antony Warmbold, Briton Alistair Ginley and Finns Janne Tuohino, Kai Kuistila and Jari ...
Five teams supported by M-Sport's customer programme will contest the Rally Finland, round nine of the FIA 2003 World Rally Championship -- German Antony Warmbold, Briton Alistair Ginley and Finns Janne Tuohino, Kai Kuistila and Jari Viita.
This event is the second World Rally Championship event this season for the Finns, who all competed on the Swedish International Rally in February.
The five teams will work from a dedicated area within the Paviljonki service park in the rally base of Jyvaskyla during the weekend, all benefiting from the support of M-Sport's specialist engineers, technicians and a central support truck, carrying parts and other shared technical equipment.
Car # 21
AW Rally Team
Driver: Antony Warmbold (D)
Co driver: Gemma Price (GB)
Vehicle: Y3 FMC (Ford Focus WRC02)
Following a frustrating Rallye Deutschland, Warmbold is looking forward to getting back onto gravel next weekend. "Gemma and I competed in the 2001 Rally Finland in a Toyota Corolla, so we have some idea of what to expect. While this is definitely an event where experience is the key, we learnt a great deal from our participation two years ago and we are confident that we can now use this experience to improve our performance." The young German, who has just celebrated his 25th birthday, says he's very much looking forward to the event. "It is without a doubt one of the classic events on the WRC calendar and the atmosphere is amazing. We are, as always, aiming for a finish as high as possible but the competition is going to be tough. The types of roads are very unique and fast with lots of crests and jumps, so knowing the best way to drive on these roads is key to a good result." This is the eighth WRC event of the 2003 season for the duo.
Car # 23
Driver: Janne Tuohino (FIN)
Co driver: Jukka Aho (FIN)
Vehicle: EX02 OBD (Ford Focus WRC02)
Tuohino is arguably one of the busiest Finnish drivers this year. Holder of the first FIA 2003 motorsport championship awarded this season - the Scandinavian Rally Winter Cup - the 28 year old is currently leading the Finnish Championship and has also completed the recce for every WRC event this season. "This year will be the sixth time I have competed in the Rally Finland and I am looking forward to getting to the start line next week! But best of all, I have just collected my new Ford Focus RS WRC02 car -- which in its 'previous life' was Carlos Sainz's entry car for Rally Finland last year -- so it has already proved it's capable of a top five finish here!" Tuohino will be joined in the cockpit by fellow Finn Jukka Aho, who has also competed many times in Finland -- although the duo have never competed on the event together. "We have actually only competed together once this year - the Swedish Rally - however we worked very well together there and I see no reason why this rally should be different. The biggest challenge we face is other competitors -- there are at least 16 that will put up a strong fight for a top ten placing, so it's not going to be easy. We are going to have to go absolutely flat out from SS1 to make it into the top 8. But I think that if everything goes well we can achieve that and with a bit of luck even top 6 is possible," The duo will spend the weekend testing in their new car before starting the recce on Monday.
Car # 25
Rally Rent Europe
Driver: Kai Kuistila (FIN)
Co driver: Kari Jokinen (FIN)
Vehicle: EX51 UAB (Ford Focus WRC02)
Having started the year in a Gp A Mitsubishi, Kuistila switched to a Ford Focus WRC RS02 at the beginning of June for the Abloy Rally, a round of the Finnish Championship. "The Focus is amazing to drive. This model is the closest you can get to a full works team car in terms of set-up and performance and in my opinion puts the rest to shame! Unfortunately the Abloy was not the best result for us as we retired with a small mechanical problem, but it certainly gave me a taste of things to come," Kuistila and Jokinen also competed at the recent EOS Rally Estonia and despite running first on the road finished fifth overall. "We were one of five customers in Focus' chasing Markko Martin and it was a fantastic result for me. The event ran on similar roads to those used next weekend, so it was also a great testing opportunity. We were hoping to extend our experience base at the Exide Rally but unfortunately again we retired for mechanical reasons. But the car's performance over the past two months has given me incredible confidence in the Focus and I know we will do well next weekend," Kuistila will hold a short test prior to the recce and is hoping for a strong finish in what will be his fourth Rally Finland and also fourth outing in the Ford Focus.
Car # 27
Driver: Jari Viita (FIN)
Co driver: Teppo Leino (FIN)
Vehicle: V9 FMC (Ford Focus WRC01)
Making his 14th appearance on the entry list for the Rally Finland, Jari Viita is undoubtedly the most experienced of all the M-Sport customers competing next week. "This is my third time in the Rally Finland in a Ford Focus. We have just completed about 30km of testing as the car has just arrived back from a rebuild at M-Sport, complete with a new engine. I am delighted with how the car performed during our short test and perhaps this weekend only Markko Martin will be faster than me!! Of course I am hoping that my performance will be enough to convince Malcolm Wilson to sign me for the world team!" he joked. Like fellow countryman Tuohino, this is Viita's second WRC outing of the year. The amiable Finn has also been competing in selected rounds of the Finnish Championship in his green tartan liveried Focus. "Rallying is a great sport, and when you are able to rally in a great car it is even better! The season so far has been good for me and I am looking forward to a fantastic run at my home event next weekend," Viita is hoping to finish inside the top 15 next Sunday.
Car # 33
Driver: Alistair Ginley (GB)
Co Driver: Rory Kennedy (IRL)
Vehicle: EJ02 KMO (Ford Focus RS WRC01)
Sponsors: Carella, Pirelli
Ginley admits that he has been looking forward to their fifth WRC outing this season at Rally Finland, following a frustrating Rallye Deutschland two weeks ago. "For some reason I couldn't find a rhythm in the car in Germany and while everything was set up perfectly, we simply didn't have any speed. It had been a year since my last tarmac rally, so it has given me some food for thought for the three tarmac rallies at the end of the year! It is somewhat of a relief to be heading back to gravel again," Unlike Germany, Ginley has some experience of the Finnish stages, having competed on the event in 2001 in a Mitsubishi Evo 6. "Of course you can't compare the performance of a Focus to that of a Group N car, but this event is about knowing how and when you can drive flat out and what to expect from the surface. Our Focus has been excellent on gravel this year, so it may not be as hard for me to settle into this event -- at least that is what I'm hoping!" Ginley's co-driver, Rory Kennedy, has not done the event previously. However as this year is the first time they've both competed in WRC events together they do not see this as a disadvantage.