Mikko Heikkilä has won the traditional Arctic Lapland Rally for the first time in his career. By doing so, the pair Heikkilä – Temonen have won the first rally for the new Toyota GR Yaris Rally2.
Mikko Heikkilä and co-driver Kristian Temonen have won the traditional Arctic Lapland Rally, a career first for both Finns. Victory in the Arctic is also the first one for the newly homologated Toyota’s new GR Yaris Rally2. The win went down to the wire, as Heikkilä grabbed the reindeer antlers, gifted traditionally to the winners of the event, by 7,3 seconds.
-The feeling is like winning the Finnish Championship in 2022. Last season was nothing short of a disaster, so this is definitely a morale booster for us. Winning the Arctic Lapland Rally is the most prestigious national event in Finland, and I’m glad we were able to win it, Heikkilä said.
Heikkilä, who was momentarily leading the rally on Friday, grabbed the lead back on Saturday’s fourth stage, 32,65 kilometres long Sarriojärvi 1, and the Michelin-driver never looked back. The win however went down to the wire, as Heikkilä held the lead by only 3,7 seconds before the second pass of the longest stage of the rally, Sarriojärvi 2. Heikkilä attacked the stage, and by winning his fourth stage of the event took the honours of lifting the reindeer antlers.
-I have to say that throughout my career I’ve rarely driven as action-packed stage as that last one. We were kissing the snowbanks a lot, but we pushed hard as well. I’m happy it was enough. Big thanks to Kristian, it feels nice to begin our relationship like this, Heikkilä commented after the final stage.
Heikkilä continues his rallying season with the WRC Sweden in two weeks’ time, where he’ll be once again driving a GR Yaris Rally2 fielded by his championship-winning team TGS Motorsport. The first win for the recently homologated Toyota is a proof of a winning package in a competitive category.
-Originally, we did not plan on driving here or even in Sweden, and so a massive thank you for all those who made it possible, my cooperation partners, for getting us here. It was a worthwhile trip, and a great preparation for Sweden too. We have some things to do in terms of the setup of the car for it to be more suitable to my liking. The car itself is really fast and capable of winning, as we have proved today. A big thank you to Michelin as well for the winning tire, Heikkilä thanked.
Mikko Heikkilä’s competitive season continues at the WRC Sweden held from 15th to 18th of February.
Arctic Lapland Rally results – category SM1:
1. Mikko Heikkilä 1:41:02,8 FIN Toyota GR Yaris Rally2
2. Teemu Asunmaa +7,3 FIN Skoda Fabia RS Rally2
3. Roope Korhonen +35,7 FIN Toyota GR Yaris Rally2
4. Georg Linnamäe +57,0 EST Toyota GR Yaris Rally2
5. Benjamin Korhola +1:37,5 FIN Hyundai i20 N Rally2