Emil Lindholm, who is competing with the GRX team Škoda Fabia R5 Evo, is the new Finnish champion in the rally SM1 class. Lindholm solved the championship together with Reeta Hämäläinen by winning the final race of the Finnish Rally Championship in Kokkola. For Lindholm, the championship is the first of his career.The GRX team's Emil Lindholm and Reeta Hämäläinen retained the top spot in the Kokkola SM Rally on the opening day and drove to victory on Sunday. The first place marked the Finnish championship for the duo competing in TGS Worldwide's Škoda Fabia R5 Evo. Second in the rally outside the Finnish Championship points was driven by Nikolai Gryaz of Russia, who had to bend to Lindholm for 7 seconds.
Teemu Asunmaa, who fought for the Finnish championship with Lindholm, was third in the rally 11.0 seconds and Mikko Heikkilä fourth 11.4 seconds from Lindholm.
Lindholm and Hämäläinen solved the championship, driving full championship points from the last three Finnish Championship rallies of the season. In Kokkola, Lindholm momentarily lost his top spot after the first SS on Sunday, but rose to the top again with the next SS.
- The second SS of the morning decided this rally. It took the lead in the rally again and after that it was a glove. Leaving for the last clip, I didn’t even get excited at all. My drive was relaxed all day.
- At the first SS in the morning, the air temperature was only four degrees Plus, and as the temperature rose, the grip improved. Our tires generally perform excellently throughout the season.
After two Finnish championship silver and one bronze in the SM1 class, the first Finnish championship of the career tastes good.
- Great feeling. This has been expected. Smiles all the time, but unfortunately the party is missed this time. We are leaving Kokkola right away for home and already on the way home we will start focusing on the Finnish World Rally Championship next week.
Lindholm says that although the championship had been close for several years, it wasn’t until this year that he was mature enough to win it.
- In previous years, there has been too much enthusiasm for the young man. Every piece had to have a good time. This year I have a better understanding of what rally as a sport requires. Just being able to drive bottom times is not enough. After all, rallying is also a tactical sport. Each result and stage time not only affects your own driving but also the performance of others. I have learned to think of the rally as a whole, Lindholm says.
A representative of Lindholm's tire manufacturer MRF Tyres in India had arrived in Finland to celebrate the manufacturer's first significant victory in the rally series. .
- The Finnish Championship series, which is run in Finland, is the most prestigious national rally series in the world. In order to succeed in Finland, a tire manufacturer is required to have expertise over a fairly wide area: snow and ice, and gravel roads of different composition. The tire must operate in different conditions in Finland. MRF did well in its challenges.
- I would also like to thank everyone who has been involved over the years for my first championship. The list would be long, but they all know who I mean. Big thanks! Many thanks also to my team as well as to Reeta who did well to encourage me during the season.
Final results: Kokkola Finnish Championship Rally:
1. Emil Lindholm – Reeta Hämäläinen (FIN) Škoda Fabia R5 Evo 59:35,4
2. Nikolai Gryazin – Konstantin Alekssandrov (RUS) VW Polo GTI R5 + 7,0
3. Teemu Asunmaa – Marko Salminen (FIN) Škoda Fabia R5 Evo + 11,0
4. Mikko Heikkilä – Topi Luhtinen (FIN) Škoda Fabia R5 Evo + 11,4
5. Eerik Pietarinen – Antti Linnaketo (FIN) VW Polo GTI R5 + 20,4
Unofficial Finnish Championship rally points SM1 category:
1. Emil Lindholm Škoda 119
2. Mikko Heikkilä Škoda 106
3. Teemu Asunmaa Škoda 104