Kankkunen returns for Rally Finland
- 22nd June 2010, 8:17am
For one more time Kankkunen will do battle on his home ground sharing a Ford Focus WRC with co-river Juha Repo. He is out to enjoy himself - and perhaps be a thorn in the side of Kimi Räikkönen and co.
"It´s going to be great to drive again, especially in the Jubilee Rally," muses Kankkunen. "This is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy a World Rally Car, knowing they´ll disappear from the series after this season."
Kankkunen and Repo last participated in Neste Rally Finland in 2002. There´s been a lot of change since then, but the pair do not foresee any undue surprises.
"I haven´t spent much time in the latest generation cars, but you still use one wheel to turn two with them, don´t you," cracks Kankkunen.
"The target is a place in the top 10 and to battle with Kimi Räikkönen," says the former champion.
"Ari Vatanen finished 11th when he was last here in 2003, so we need to do better," enthuses Repo.
Once more - with a feeling
51-year-old Kankkunen started his serious career with this same event in 1979, so it´s an emotional return to stages that wind their way through his Laukaa home region. This time Juha will be entered by Stobart M-Sport Ford. He has previously driven for Peugeot, Lancia, Toyota, Ford, Subaru and Hyundai works teams.
"I believe that of all successful drivers of the 1980´s Juha is in sharpest form today. He has regularly taken part in invitational events and also kept in touch through his own Driving Academy," remarks Repo.
In search of the heritage
It is a great bonus for the rally organizer to list Juha Kankkunen among the entry in its Jubilee Event. Promoter Jarmo Mahonen sees this as something that unites all Finnish rally fans.
"Juha is one of the most successful drivers in the history of the FIA World Rally Championship and his presence is sure to bring back memories of this event and the sport in general over generations. His participation in the Jubilee Event is a highlight that we want to share with all of Finland," says Mahonen.
The rally legend´s return is intensely followed on MTV3 channels, which broadcast nearly 25 hours of coverage from the event. In celebration of Kankkunen´s entry MTV3 and AKK Sports encourage fans to bring forward recollections, photos, films and stories from past events. Deputy Managing Director Heikki Rotko from MTV3 points out that Neste Oil Rally Finland arouses strong feelings.
"In honour of Juha Kankkunen and the Jubilee Event we wish to create a production, which activates rally fans to think back to past highlights. This is meant to be more than just a week-long celebration; we strive for a genuine act of sporting culture, where priceless heritage gets brought to daylight from garages, attics, dusty shelves and backs of people´s minds. We then document it and share it with everybody on MTV3 channels," explains Rotko.
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