The chances of the Team GRX’s Emil Lindholm and Mikael Korhonen to win their first Finnish championship in the SM1-class fell short in the seventh special stage of the SM-Pohjanmaa Rally. First TGS Worldwide Škoda’s hood opened up in the middle of driving pointing upwards. In the very next turn Lindholm hit a rock that had dug out of the inner bench of the road from which the Škoda fell off the side of the road and the twosome hadto retire. In the Finnish Championship final points Lindholm finished second and got a silver medal. Teemu Asunmaa, who won the SM-Pohjanmaa Rally, became the Finnish champion.
The solution of the FRC’s SM1-class championship battle came down to the seventh special stage, SS Länsikylä, in Seinäjoki. Škoda's Emil Lindholm, who was driving second in the rally with 1.5 seconds to the top car, had to retire. Before the second run of the SS Länsikylä Lindholm had opened the hood of his car and closed it before the start. However, driving fast in beginning of the special stage caused the hood to open and suddenly stay up. In the next turn to the right after the straight away Lindholm dropped the front wheel of his Škoda into the groove on the inside of the road where the tyre hit a grounded rock that dug out of the bench causing the Škoda to fall off the road.
“I do not know what I could have done differently in that situation. This mistake goes to my own books. The opened hood of course was inconvenient but it didn’t affect me going off the road at all. I saw the turn normally, braked and turned the car into the groove. The front wheel hit a big rock that had dug out of the bench and the car immediately started falling. There was nothing to do about it”, Lindholm says.
“I was the first car on the route so I had to drive a clean driving line because the edges of the road were really slippery. At this point we should have been aware that there was a rock sticking out from the inner bench of that particular turn. We gave our all for the championship but this still wasn’t our year. We already knew at the start of this rally that we can’t hold back at all”.
“Until that turn we had a really good competition going on that went ahead as planned. This was a big disappointment. The championship would have been a huge thing for me and our partners”, Lindholm recalled.
The winners of the SM1-class championship are Škoda’s Teemu Asunmaa and Jani Salo reigning champions from last season. Lindholm and Korhonen placed second which were Lindholm’s third silver medals of his rally career.
“Teemu was a tough opponent this year which I also need at this point in my driving career. In the winter rallies I had to give my all against him. Thanks to Teemu this season was a good learning experience, as I often had to think about where to attack and where again to defend my positions and where to drive a little more cautiously. That just was not enough for us this year. Congratulations to Teemu and Jani!” , Lindholm says.
FRC SM1-class unofficial final results:
1. Teemu Asunmaa Škoda Fabia R5 Evo 107,5
2. Emil Lindholm Škoda Fabia R5 Evo 95
3. Mikko Heikkilä Škoda Fabia R5 Evo 61
4. Esa Ruotsalainen Škoda Fabia R5 51
5. Juha Salo Škoda Fabia R5 49,5