Vaakuna Rally 16.-17.2.2018 (English)

Jukka Kasi from RallyTeamKasing in Top 10 at Finnish Rally Championship -rally in Mikkeli

The Vaakuna Rally was driven this weekend in Southeastern Finland as the second winter rally in the Finnish Rally Championship (FRC) 2018 -calendar. The rally offered 7 special stages, a total of 115 kilometers of high-speed racing on the roads of Etelä-Savo. The RallyTeamKasing driver – co-driver pair Jukka Kasi and Henri Ania improved their position compared to the season opened Arctic Lapland Rally driven three weeks earlier – ultimately crossing the finish line at 9th position in the highly-competitive FRC1 class.

Jukka and Henri got their first preview of the Vaakuna FRC-rally roads on the test stage, which was driven in good conditions on Thursday. The “actual” rally kicked off on Friday evening with a 1.5 kilometer-long spectator stage at Mikkeli racetrack. RallyTeamKasing’s Jukka Kasi and Henri Ania started with a good run, although the track choice for the head-to-head start was not ideal. The slippery surface did not offer a proper grip of the road, and when the start lights went off it took a couple of valuable seconds for the car to start moving.

– I don’t think we’ve ever experienced a start like this before. To think that a 4-wheel-drive just remains still with spiked tires spinning in place. At the end of the day, however, those few seconds won’t affect the rest of the rally, Kasi laughed at the SS1 finish before the overnight service break.

The Rally commenced properly on Saturday with the fast-paced SS2 Tuomioja 1 (13 km) and SS 3 Hangastenmaa 1 (24 km) special stages, which were driven back-to-back without long transitions in between.

– We got the hang of it right from the beginning and driving on the fast-paced special stages felt good. Especially SS3 Hangastenmaa was for my liking as it offered lots of versatility: the quick and slow sections alternated throughout the 24 kilometer run – I would definitely hope to see more of such stages in the series, Kasi analyzed the day so far.

 After the first three special stages Kasi and Ania were driving in 10th position in the highly competitive FRC1 class, which corresponded with the goal the team had set for the rally.

– The competition here in Mikkeli consists of professional World Rally Championship (WRC) -drivers as well as the best drivers in the FRC-series. There’s no denying that it feels good to be driving within the top ten, says Kasi at Saturday’s first service break.

The next two special stages – SS4 Hännilä (25 km) and SS5 Siikakoski (28 km) – were driven without any big surprises and a pair moved up to 9th position in the overall classification before the second and final service break. The rally culminated in the evening at SS 6 Tuomioja 2 and SS 7 Hangastenmaa special stages. Even though both had already been driven in daylight, driving in the dark brought new challenge to the driving.

– There were a few difficult situations, which were able to clear without a spin,” Kasi said.

– As a co-driver the most memorable special stage of the rally was SS 3, which was run again as SS 6. The first run was very enjoyable. However, driving in darkness differs quite a bit from driving in daylight – and during the second run our concentration level had to be even higher, Ania sums up his feelings.

Jukka and Henri held on to the position they had achieved earlier during the day, ultimately crossing the finish line in Mikkeli Town Square at 9th position in FRC1 class – which corresponded well with what the pair had set out to achieve. As the previous three times in Vaakuna Rally in Mikkeli had ended in retirement, Kasi and Ania had a real reason to be very satisfied with the outcome.

– In terms of result, the race was everything we were aiming at. We were able finish ahead of FRC2 class which offers real competition. The rally proved that our SS notes have improved to a new level: there were no surprises and all the “hard” spots had been marked correct. With a race like this, it’s good to head towards the winter-season-ending Joensuu Rally.

The next FRC-rally is set to run on March 3rd in Joensuu.

Text: Info | RallyTeamKasing

Photos: Taneli Niinimäki, Hannu Rainamo, RallyTeamKasing