Flying Finn choose Kiwi team for 2008 WRC
- 18th December 2007, 8:47am
Ralliart New Zealand will enter six rounds of the 2008 FIA Production World Rally Championship with 26-year old Finnish sensation Juho Hänninen.
Having recently concluded his 2007 debut season, Hänninen set the fastest time on more competitive stages than any other driver in the series. Winning 26 stages over six events, the New Zealand Ralliart team ran the youngster for three of those rounds, covering the Pacific Rim region.
“He’s sensationally fast and been short of some luck for his first season at this level,” said Ralliart New Zealand boss Neil Allport.
Hänninen’s raw speed was often truncated by traditional off-road excursions that Allport believes are part of the apprenticeship process.
“It’s all part of the learning and we’re thrilled that he’s selected us to get him on track for 2008.”
Coupled to a significant amount of experience running in the Production World Rally Championship, Allport believes their past season of success was the catalyst in Hänninen picking the Ralliart team.
“There is no doubting his ability – none whatsoever. So to have someone with such potential and calibre choose our New Zealand team to run him at world level means we must have what it takes to win.”
Opening a path for New Zealand drivers, Allport says the campaign gives home-grown talent additional opportunities to perform at world level: “Experience counts for so much in this game – that’s something we can use to benefit our own drivers who want to perform off-shore.”
With the 2008 season starting in early February, the Ralliart New Zealand crew have precious little time. Shipping to the northern hemisphere winter of Sweden, the team will be working extra long hours in the run up to Christmas, preparing for their toughest programme to date.
Running a Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9 for the first part of the season, plans are a-foot to introduce a Lancer EVO 10 later in the year.
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