Following on from the disappointment of a final stage retirement on the opening round of the 2012 British Rally Championship last month, Pirelli TEG Sport driver Jukka Korhonen got his season underway with a solid seventh place on this weekend’s Bulldog Rally of North Wales.
Driving the Pirelli-backed Skoda Fabia R2, the 27-year-old Finn, who won last year’s Pirelli UK Star Driver award, was competing in the Welsh forests for the first time and made a steady start before upping his pace over the early stages. Korhonen from Siikajarvi, and co driven by his namesake Mikael, battled with local ace Elfyn Evans, who won the event last year for the Pirelli TEG Sport team, and at the finish was just over half a minute down on the Welshman. In addition to his top seven placing overall, Korhonen secured second in the R2 class to add important points going into next month’s Pirelli International Rally.
Hoping to emulate his superb 13th place overall and seventh in class on Rallye Sunseeker was Arron Newby in the Pirelli TEG Sport team’s Robert Wiseman Dairies-sponsored Skoda Fabia R2 but sadly for the 17-year-old from Carnforth, it wasn’t to be.
Following on the ceremonial start on Friday evening in Welshpool town centre whereby Newby’s unique cow-livered car commanded a lot of attention amongst the many hundreds of fans who turned out, hopes were high for a good result for Arron and regular Robert Wiseman Dairies competitor Julian Wilkinson.
Sadly for the pair, they slid into a deep ditch on the opening stage and although the car wasn’t damaged and they eventually managed to extract themselves, they eventually retired after SS3 after going Outside Total Lateness (OTL) meaning they could not improve on their championship position.
Jukka Korhonen: “This was my first time driving in the Welsh forests and I have learned a lot. The car is very good but maybe I need to work on my pacenotes to suit the British terrain and I think we can improve our speed more. We were close to Elfyn for much of the rally and scored important points which was the aim. The car only needs a polish now for the Pirelli International Rally and I’m sure we can get a good result for the Pirelli TEG Sport team on their local event.”
Arron Newby: “To say I’m disappointed is a massive understatement as this is not what either myself, the team nor our sponsors wanted. I was hoping to improve on my first round result but we paid a high price for a small mistake and it wasn’t to be. I have to understand it’s all part of the learning process and to be challenging in the British Rally Championship means we have our downs as well as our ups. On a positive side, the car was fantastic and also a massive hit with the Welsh fans on Friday night so thanks to Robert Wiseman Dairies for their support and I am sorry we didn’t get a result this time out. I hope to put that right on the Pirelli International Rally next month.”
Stuart Newby: “Last year we left Welshpool having won the Bulldog Rally of North Wales but this year, all we have is a seventh place to celebrate which, on the face of it, isn’t what we planned. But you have to take the positives out of it and this was Jukka’s first time in these forests so to match Elfyn Evans for pace for much of the day isn’t too shabby. The car is very fast and we are going in the right direction although this result perhaps doesn’t reflect that. He also scored very important points in R2 which is good. As for Arron, this was only his third gravel event and although we were hopeful of a good result, he was unlucky. In a way, it’s good to see him beating himself up about it and whilst we are all very disappointed, it’s all part of the learning curve and I’m sure both he and Jukka will become very strong as the year progresses.”
The Pirelli International Rally is based in Carlisle and uses the forests in the Kielder region over the weekend of April 27/28th.
Pictures attached (courtesy of Jakob Ebrey), Jukka Korhonen in action and Arron Newby (right) with co-driver Julian Wilkinson from this weekend’s Bulldog International Rally of North Wales
Further information about the event can be found at www.bulldog-rally.co.uk and for information on the team, drivers and championship, please visit: www.tegsport.co.uk, www.arronnewby.com, www.jukkakorhonen.net and www.rallybrc.co.uk.