The 56th Arctic Lapland Rally starts on Friday 15th of January at noon in the Mäntyvaara service park. The competitors face over 200 kilometres of icy adventures among the Lappish fells as they tackle the three stages on Friday and four on Saturday. The three spectator stages of the event are cancelled and no spectators are allowed on the stages anywhere due to the strict COVID-19 measures present at the event.
Among those starting our wild journey are the Finnish F1 driver Valtteri Bottas, who starts to be a familiar face already among the drivers of the Arctic, the Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby, who made his debut in WRC class at the end of last season, and Riku Tahko, who switched from another manufacturer to become a brand ambassador for Hyundai. Both Veiby and Tahko helm a Hyundai i20 R5.
The main class of the event, however, the SM1 for R5 and other modern 4WD cars gathered also a remarkable 29 competitors. Among them naturally the reigning Finnish champion and our last year’s SM1 winner Teemu Asunmaa, the 10-time Finnish Champion and 6-time winner of Arctic Lapland Rally Juha Salo as well as a new rising star who made some name for himself last season, Mikko Heikkilä. It is however Emil Lindholm who will certainly push to the maximum to correct his slip of the last year’s victory on the final stage of the rally. An interesting debutant to the class is Kalle Markkanen, who switched to the 4WD R5 last year after the end of Finnish Championship season. And finally at least one more to watch and grasp attention is Niclas Grönholm, who competes in the FIA World Rallycross Championship and claimed the highest podium in the Finnish event of the last season.
Photo: Taneli Niinimäki