Team GRX’s Emil Lindholm and Mikael Korhonen drive Škoda Fabia R5 Evo this year. Read how it goes for the twosome during the season!
Image: Taneli Niinimäki
Status: The ERC rallies in Latvia and Poland have been postponed until the autumn. The Finnish FRC rallies are expected to take place in September (in Kouvola and Seinäjoki).
Update 2nd March 2020: Lindholm renewed his SM Itäralli victory in Joensuu
Team GRX’s Emil Lindholm and Mikael Korhonen successfully defended their SM Itäralli victory in
Joensuu. The Finnish duo, competing with TGS Worldwide’s Škoda, drove to the first place with 6,7
second difference to second place Teemu Asunmaa. Ireland’s Craig Breen placed third.
Lindholm’s second FRC-win of the winter season did not come easy. Teemu Asunmaa, who was leading the Finnish Championship series in points before Joensuu, challenged Lindholm from start to finish. After five special stages the difference between the two drivers were 6,7 seconds to the finish line.
“I had to push hard for the win. We drove the two first special stages very fast but with patience and that was enough for the fastest times. On the third special stage we had the same tactic but our speed wasn’t enough anymore. Teemu (Asunmaa) drove very fast so I had to put lot in to the fourth special stage, classic SS Oskola”, Lindholm explains.
“During that SS I felt like a daredevil with all the breathtaking spots the route had to offer. There were hills, jumps and the road turned in the crossings. This was a great win and goes to the Top-3 best Finnish rallies in my books. I am proud I was able to win this Finnish rally classic twice in a row”, Lindholm reminds.
In overall the winter season of 2020 went well for Lindholm. In three FRC-competitions and one WRC competition, Lindholm got two wins and a podium spot from each rally. “We have been going forward with our speed and learned quite a deal this year. It was nice to notice that we were able to do well against WRC-level top driver, who was testing his car here. Of course when we are aiming to drive internationally, we should win all the Finnish national rallies”.
In Finnish Championship standings Lindholm and Korhonen rose to the first spot of SM1-class with their two wins in a row. Teemu Asunmaa is tied for second place with same amount of points. “We are going into the summer season head-to-head from the same line. Now I just have to re-bait the hook”, Lindholm smiles.
After Joensuu Finnish Rally Championship series is going to a three and a half month spring break. Next time the battle of the FRC-points is being driven on 12th and 13th of June in Kouvola.
29 February 2020: “We will continue in Joensuu (Finland), where we left off in Sweden”
Team GRX’s Emil Lindholm and Mikael Korhonen will start the final FRC-rally of the winter
season in Joensuu from the second place of the championship standings. The Finnish duo,
driving in SM1-class with TGS Worldwide’s Škoda, is looking to continue to be on the podium in 'Itäralli', Finnish Rally Legend Ari Vatanen's home rally.
This winter’s unseasonably warm weather melted most of the snow in the Joensuu area too, but
luckily in the beginning of rally week temperatures dropped below freezing and the week
continues with cold temperatures and light snow on the ground.
Itäralli, driven in surroundings of the forested hills and the capital of the North Karelian Region
Joensuu, offers five challenging special stages with overall length of almost hundred kilometres.
“These weather conditions are this winters specialty and unfortunately familiar also from Rally
Sweden. Good that the weather is below freezing so the roads will stay in good shape. A year ago
a thick snow blizzard that started on the third special stage made the rest of the rally a Sunday
drive. I hope we get to drive the last three special stages fast and in good conditions”, Lindholm
Lindholm, starting the route with starting number three, tells that everything is ready for the
upcoming weekend: “In Sweden on Friday’s special stages we had the best car in our class, thanks to TGS Worldwide. We are continuing where we left off in Sweden. In Joensuu the roads are slightly faster and we might make some adjustments on the stiffness of the chassis of our car, nothing else. We will get
the best result when the driver also remembers to adjust himself and that’s what I’m planning to
Lindholm tells they’re going after a full and complete performance from the Itäralli: “Winning Mikkeli patched up the little mishap from Arctic Lapland-rally so we can start Itäralli with calm minds. We will follow what Teemu (Asunmaa) is going to do. We don’t have to win unless Teemu is in the lead. In that case we will have to try and win the rally so we can beat him”.
The last FRC-rally of the winter season starts from the market square of Joensuu on Saturday, leap
day 29th of February at 10:01. In the days programme there is five special stages, total 98,1
kilometres. First competitors are expected on the finish line at Joensuu’s market square at 18:35.
Update 17 Feb: Lindholm achieved his best WRC result in Rally Sweden
TGS Worldwide’s Škoda driving Emil Lindholm and Mikael Korhonen finished second in WRC3-
class and 11th in overall in WRC Rally Sweden. For 23-year-old Team GRX’s Lindholm, the
result was his careers best to date in WRC-level.
Škoda’s Emil Lindholm and Mikael Korhonen placed second in WRC3-class in Rally Sweden. In the
only special stage driven on Sunday, Lindholm had to give 1.6 seconds to Jari Huttunen. The overall
difference between Team GRX’s twosome and Huttunen was exactly 5 seconds in Huttunen’s
favour. The two Finnish WRC3-class drivers left behind manufacturers WRC2-class winner Mads
Östberg. After a tight competition a loss to his teammate didn’t make Lindholm feel sour.
“Jari (Huttunen) drove especially well yesterday and deserved his win. The last special stage was
quite something and we made pretty wild moves already in the second turn of the SS. I think we
could’ve drove a little faster, but after that second turn I realized now it’s just better to drive this
SS through and get to the finish line. Not the most enjoyable SS but at least we made it”, Lindholm
“In overall, good rally from us. We fought for the title of the fastest R5-driver this whole
competition. In hindsight I think we already lost this rally in Torsby Sprint that was driven twice. In
those special stages I was being over careful with my tires. In this sport you cannot feel sorry for
your tires or car and you have to drive every situation as fast as you can. That’s something we
learned from this rally and will remember in the future”, Lindholm reminds.
A year ago, Rally Sweden’s first timer Lindholm drove third in R5-class and 12th in overall. This
year his results got better by a notch.
“Us being the second fastest R5-car is the most important thing in our papers. On the plus side we
were fighting to be the fastest R5-car throughout the whole rally. This is a good situation to drive
in the last FRC winter rally of the season which is competed in two weeks at Joensuu”.
13-16 February: Lindholm in Rally Sweden, driven as a shorter version due to warm weather and bad snow conditions.
Lindholm on Rally Sweden: “No free seconds available”
With TGS Worldwide’s Škoda competing Team GRX’s Emil Lindholm and Mikael Korhonen will
start the shortened Rally Sweden this upcoming weekend with confident minds. “The weather
conditions are what they are but we will do our best what ever comes ahead of us”, Lindholm
It doesn’t look good. In Karlstad, Middle Sweden, the grass is green and on Friday there should be
a winter rally. The rally’s organisers have had to shorten the route and as it gets closer to the
competition there still might be modifications ahead.
A year ago, Emil Lindholm, who placed 12th in Rally Sweden’s overall competition and second on
WRC2-class, reminds that there’s no room to lose valuable seconds with fewer SS-kilometres.
“There isn’t that many kilometres this year so we can’t afford to give any seconds for free at any
part of the rally. We have incar-videos from two special stages that we’ve been going through
before writing pacenotes. We are going to make good and specific notes and drive fast. We are
going into the weekend with a good feeling”, Lindholm smiles.
“It is a shame that the conditions are what they are. The route in Rally Sweden has been fun to
drive. The Swedish road profile is pretty funny, quite a bit of long, round turns. Great feeling to
drive if the surface of the road will hold up with studded snow tires. If there isn’t any snow we are
still going to drive fast and without any mistakes whatever the conditions are. We’re going to go
for the best result from the starting point that is given ahead of us”, Lindholm reminds.
TGS Worldwide’s Škoda Fabia R5 Evo driving Finnish duo will start the competition, according to
current information, as the 21st car on the route, with starting number 28.
“There’s a chance our position could get better towards the top cars. We will find out later. If this
is going to be a gravel competition we need to think about our car’s height and suspension
adjustments again. It’s nice to drive a new rally right after we won the previous weekend”.
Because of the unseasonably warm weather and snow conditions Rally Sweden is driven as a
shorter version this year. On the programme at the moment there is 11 special stages and 171,64
kilometres. The competition will start Thursday night with head-to-head special stage driven in
Karlstad trotting track (1,9 km). On Friday there are four special stages driven across the border in
Norway and again back into Sweden. Same special stages are driven identically again on Saturday.
On both days there are only 63,68 SS kilometres.
On Sunday the final day of the rally, there is only one special stage, (Likenäs 21,19km) a Power
Stage that is driven twice in a row. With an exception of Thursday all the competition days will
finish around 16:00 Finnish time. With the newest information the Rally Sweden’s route might be
shorter what it is now.
Live timing: https://www.wrc.com/en/wrcplus/live-timing/
Update 10 February: Emil and Mikael won in Mikkeli, Finland!
Team GRX’s Emil Lindholm and Mikael Korhonen won the season’s second FRC event in Mikkeli. This is the third time in Lindholm’s driving career to win an FRC level overall competition.
Team GRX’s Emil Lindholm and Mikael Korhonen drove for the win of SM Vaakuna Rally in Mikkeli. Skoda Fabia R5 Evo driving twosome rose to the lead of the rally after the third special stage and stood their ground until the finish line. Difference to Skoda´s Teemu Asunmaa, who finished second, was 14,8 seconds.
“Pretty difficult day behind us but I feel relieved. The ratio between rallies we’ve led and rallies we’ve won is terrible but now it looks a little better,” Lindholm smiled at the finish line.
“There was a lot of loose snow on the route after yesterday’s snowfall which made some spots hard to drive fast. This route demanded a lot of trust from the car, we couldn’t let the rear end slip on the loose snow in these conditions at all”, Lindholm tells.
“The grip varied a lot today. On some roads there was more grip on the ground than on others, some spots had significantly less traction. Today our tires worked great for us”, Lindholm reminds.
Lindholm says he is happy how he drove this weekend. The young Finnish driver accomplished his victory by driving five fastest times in a row, which changed his one-second loss to 15,2 second lead.
“We drove a smart, controlled, fast paced rally with full focus. You don’t get anything for free in this series and we proved that today”, Lindholm reminds.
With this win Lindholm rose from the SM1-class third position to second place. “If Asunmaa would have won here this weekend the difference between us would have grown significantly. This win was very important for us heading into the rest of the season. Now I feel great going to WRC Rally Sweden next week”.
Overall results; SM Vaakuna Rally, Mikkeli:
Emil Lindholm – Mikael Korhonen Skoda Fabia R5 Evo 1:03:07,0
Teemu Asunmaa – Jani Salo Skoda Fabia R5 Evo + 14,8
Mikko Heikkilä – Henri Arpiainen Skoda Fabia R5 + 44,2
Teemu Asunmaa Skoda 52
Emil Lindholm Skoda 45
Eerik Pietarinen Skoda 35
Image: Merita Mäkinen
February: Lindholm heads to Vaakuna Rally in Mikkeli, Finland after learning from his mistake
Team GRX’s Emil Lindholm and Mikael Korhonen will start the second FRC event SM Vaakuna rally in Mikkeli with confident minds. After successful preliminary tests, everything is ready for the upcoming weekend. The twosome will start the competition with starting position number 2.
Team GRX’s Emil Lindholm’s and Mikael Korhonen’s season started with a slight disappointment in SM Arctic Lapland rally. On the last special stage a misheard note slid their Skoda Fabia R5 Evo to a snow bank and the full points they almost reached changed to an SM1-class third position.
The twosome has learned from that mistake and has been concentrating to Mikkeli’s SM competition well ahead of time.
“We drove good tests in Keuruu with TGS Worldwide-team, almost a hundred kilometres. The weather was below zero and the roads were in a good shape all day. If I have understood correctly, same type of winter weather is waiting us in Mikkeli”, Lindholm tells.
“In the tests we had a chance to focus on the parts in the car that bothered me after Arctic Lapland rally. Adjusting a rally car to the existing circumstances is always a challenge. My car is now more suitable to me and hopefully few notches faster”, Lindholm says.
In Mikkeli the competitors are going to drive nine special stages, which don’t include special stages driven twice. “It’s better to me that I need to drive fast on a first try. Roads in these areas are challenging, lot of height differences and crossovers containing high-speed combinations. The notes have to be specific and we have them under control. We learned from our mistake in Rovaniemi and changed our note vocabulary so now we don’t have any notes that can get mixed up”, Lindholm says.
Lindholm tells that their goal to this weekend is to get as many points as possible. “Our strategy is to see how the driving feels like and see the result at the finish line”, Lindholm smiles.
SM Vaakuna rally starts on Friday night February 7 at 19:30 from Mikkeli’s trotting track, where an SS stage of 1,50 kilometres will be driven. The rally continues on Saturday morning starting at 10:00. On the day programme, there will be eight special stages, overall length 111,71 kilometres. First competitors are expected to the finish line at Mikkeli Market Square at 19:00 on Saturday night.
January: Arctic Lapland Rally in Finland - Lindholm to defend his SM1 class win
Team GRX’s Emil Lindholm and Mikael Korhonen are defending their SM1 class win of the Arctic Lapland Rally, the opening competition of Finnish Championship Series, on 17-18 January in Rovaniemi, Finland. The twosome, who are looking for a full and complete competition, started the rally with Team TGS Worldwide’s new Škoda Fabia R5 Evo.
Team GRX’s Emil Lindholm and Mikael Korhonen began their reconnaissance of the SM Arctic Lapland rally with confident minds. At the moment, Arctic Circle has lot of snow and the roads are frozen, which makes the conditions great for winter rally. Despite the poor snow condition in Southern Finland, preparations for the upcoming season have gone almost as planned.
“We weren’t able to drive a lot of tests, but visited the North enough that we know the feeling for the new car will be good. New Škoda is slightly better in all aspects than the previous version of it. The engine runs nicely and when the last versions steering didn’t react to me turning the wheel as I wanted, on this new version that shortage has been fixed. At least us being successful isn’t up to the car”, Lindholm says.
Two-day FRC-series opening competition in the Arctic Circle has since last year undergone some changes, which Lindholm is pleased to see. There are still ten special stages but 40 kilometres less to drive than last year.
“SS Untamovaara is coming back after being gone for few years and there are some other changes too. In Untamovaara, I drove my first overall fastest time of my driving career. It’s a good thing for us that the route is changing and being renewed”, Lindholm reminds.
“Arctic is still a long rally, the longest in the FRC-series. I don’t believe that those missing kilometres have that much effect, especially that the amount of special stages is the same. The weather forecast hasn’t predicted any extremely cold weather so soft light snow isn’t expected on the roads. We’re starting right after the WRC cars and I think that position is pretty good. If the soft light snow is floating in the air on the special stages, the organizer has promised a two minute start between cars”, says Lindholm.
Lindholm, who was reached during recce is recovering from an unpleasant flu fever.
“I’m feeling pretty good now so I am ready for the upcoming rally. We’re trying to drive a full, complete competition and bring the car to the finish line. Good points from here are important, thinking about the rest of the season”, Lindholm says.
The Finnish Rally Championship-season opening Arctic Lapland Rally’s total length is 712,09 km. The route has 10 special stages, total 201,73 km. The rally starts on Friday 17 January at 12:00 am. from Lordin aukio, Rovaniemi. On the first day’s programme there is 5 special stages, 91,0 km. The first cars are expected to arrive for the night break at 21:15.
The rally continues on Saturday morning at 7:00. The closing day programme has another five special stages, 110,73 km. The first competitors are expected at the finish line in Lordin aukio, Rovaniemi, on Saturday night at 19:20.
Update 20 January 2020: Misheard note dropped from SM1 class lead to third place
Lindholm and Korhonen, who were leading the SM1 class before the last special stage, drove to a snow bank and dropped to SM1 class third place and overall fourth of the Arctic Lapland Rally.
In SS Niskavaara (19.97 km), Lindholm unfortunately misheard a note and drove his new Skoda in high speed into a snow bank, losing a minute and a half of extra time.
“I misheard a note. This is a downer and I want to apologize to all of our partners. Sure we were lucky that we even made the finish line and if I have to think the positive, all the points we are getting are important regarding to the rest of the FRC series. We still haven’t lost anything but this shouldn’t have happened”, said Lindholm criticizing himself.
“We need to make some changes to our notes. These two notes we had are representing entirely two different speeds but phonetically sound the same. We had at least 50 km/h to that turn and we were lucky that we didn’t roll the car over. Our right front wheel got on the top of the snow bank but I reversed so we were able to continue our competition quickly. Soon we noticed our engine’s air filter was full of snow and we had to stop and clean it”.
“I feel miserable now but the season will continue. At least knowing my speed was enough in this company of drivers soothes my mind a little. We will try again in the next rally”, Lindholm says. FRC series will continue in three weeks on 7-8 February in SM Vaakuna rally in Mikkeli, Finland. This season there will be six rallies driven in the FRC series.