Niclas Grönholm (Hyundai i20) won the second event at Arkala (OuluZone) in Finland on Sunday (June 6) beating Johan Kristoffersson (VW Polo Mk5) in the final. Grönholm’s victory was his third one in the 2021 RallyX Nordic series after his double win at Höljes earlier this season.
For the second leg of the OuluZone double header the number of Supercars was brought down to 10 as both Anders Michalak (VW Polo Mk5) – who finished fourth yesterday – and Philip Gehrman (VW Polo Mk5) pulled out of the event. On top of the list of the ten Supercars after qualifying was Niclas Grönholm. He set fastest times in Q1 and Q3. Kristoffersson was second in the intermediate standings after having set a fastest time in Q2. Juha Rytkönen (Ford Fiesta Mk7) who set second fastest times in Q1 and Q2 was classified third ahead of Fraser McConnell (Ford Fiesta Mk8) and Sondre Evjen (Audi S1).
The ten car field was split in two 5-car semi-finals with the first one having an all Finnish front row with Grönholm and Rytkönen while the second one had Kristoffersson and McConnell as front row starters.
Grönholm and Rytkönen, after both passed through the joker lap section in the second and first lap, signed for a one-two finish in the first semi-final. Initially the third Finn in the field – Henri Haapamäki (Ford Fiesta ERX Mk8) – made it also through to the final. However after he received a time penalty from the Stewards for pushing, Sondre Evjen was allowed to start the final.
Kristoffersson was in control during the second semi-final and together with Jere Kalliokoski (Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST) and Enzo Ide (Audi S1) they qualified for the final. For Fraser McConnell there was some bad luck in the semi-final as he broke the front left wheel of his Fiesta and as such failed to finish.
In the final with Grönholm on pole and Kristoffersson the other front row starter, the first named had the better start and was leading Kristoffersson throughout the final. Both passed through the joker lap section during the final lap and were able to join the main track again as one and two. Juha Rytkönen, who passed through the joker lap section immediately after the start, came close for second place but eventually finished third. Enzo Ide made it in fourth ahead of Jere Kalliokoski. Sondre Evjen was forced to retire from the final with a broken steering in the last lap.
“This was revenge for yesterday,” Grönholm said. “It all seemed to go my way yesterday until the puncture so very happy to get the win here today.
“I was a bit nervous all day to be honest, we haven’t had good launches and starting on the inside has been really tricky. I think it’s the worst spot on the grid.
” I had a decent launch in the final though, the car was stalling a bit and I couldn’t hold it any more and Q3’s launch was a bit worse than that, three of our starts we struggled with stalling.
“Johan [Kristoffersson] took me after turn one for the first few meters over the bump but then I got him on the gears.
“He was close on the first lap, that’s been the same all weekend. For me, the second or third lap has been the best once the tires get up to temperature.
“The first lap I’ve generally been quite cautious, I was trying to avoid any mistakes and obviously go carefully over the bump after yesterday.”
In the standings after six events Kristoffersson (137 points) holds a 27-points-lead on Grönholm (110 points – who said he is not planning to take part in the final event at Arvika). Evjen is currently third with 108 points.
Tommi Hallman (Supercar Lites) scored another win in the Supercar Lites category after being today’s top qualifier. Afterwards he won his semi-final and won the final from pole. Jonne Ollikainen (Supercar Lites) – who was third yesterday – improved and finished second today. The final step of the podium was occupied by Martin Enlund (Supercar Lites). In the series point standings Hallman leads it from Nils Andersson (Supercar Lites) with 141 points vs 109 points. Therefore Hallman basically only needs to participate in the season finale at Arvika in order to claim the 2021 series win.
In Open 2WD Simon Tiger (BMW E30 Coupé) could have scored a six-out-of-six, however it turned out differently. Similar as yesterday Tiger received some competition from local driver Tuomas Venäläinen (Datsun Finn) throughout the day with the Finn beating Tiger for the fastest time in Q2. For the final race of the day both were sharing the front row of the Open 2WD final but once the green light was shown there was a series of contacts between the two drivers in the run up to the first turn. Despite the contact racing continued and Tiger even came in first. Then the Stewards came up with the decision to disqualify (black flag) Tiger as well as Venäläinen from the final.
Following those disqualifications victory went to Marcus Norman (Mazda RX-8) who initially came in second behind Tiger. No changes in the top of the series standings as Tiger was able to drop today’s score. He still holds a comfortable lead of 29 points on Mathias Jansson (Volvo S40 Mk1) with one more event to come.
The 2021 RallyX Nordic series will come to an end with the season finale at Arvika (Westombanan) in Sweden on August 14-15, 2021.
Supercar (Open 4WD) – Final: 1. Niclas Grönholm (FIN), Hyundai i20; 2. Johan Kristoffersson (S), VW Polo Mk5; 3. Juha Rytkönen (FIN), Ford Fiesta Mk7; 4. Enzo Ide (B), Audi S1; 5. Jere Kalliokoski (FIN), Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST; 6. Sondre Evjen (N), Audi S1 – DNF.
Supercar Lites – Final: 1. Tommi Hallman (FIN), Supercar Lites; 2. Jonne Ollikainen (FIN), Supercar Lites; 3. Martin Enlund (S), Supercar Lites; 4. Isak Sjökvist (S), Supercar Lites; 5. Casper Jansson (S), Supercar Lites; 6. Simon Olofsson (S), Supercar Lites.
Open 2WD – Final: 1. Marcus Norman (S), Mazda RX-8; 2. Raimo Kauttio (FIN), Ford Escort Mk7; 3. Mathias Jansson (S), Volvo S40 Mk1; 4. Antti Väre (FIN), Ford Fiesta Mk6 – DNF; -. Simon Tiger (S), BMW E30 Coupé – DSQ; -. Tuomas Venäläinen (FIN), Datsun Finn – DSQ.
Supercar (6/7): 1. Johan Kristoffersson (S), 137; 2. Niclas Grönholm (FIN), 110; 3. Sondre Evjen (N) 108; etc.
Supercar Lites (6/7): 1. Tommi Hallman (FIN), 141; 2. Nils Andersson (S), 109; 3. Linus Östlund (S), 98; etc.
Open 2WD (6/7): 1. Simon Tiger (S), 131; 2. Mathias Jansson (S), 102; 3. Marcus Norman (S), 72; etc.