Leppihalme and the home boys

by Hal Ridge |

Finland’s RallycrossRX event this weekend includes the return of American round one winner Tanner Foust to the series, who brings his high profile mate Brian Deegan with him for round four. While Foust may have won at the opening round of the championship, the unexpected star of the event who joined Foust on the podium was Jussi-Petteri Leppihalme, who also returns to the series this weekend, for his home event.

The young Fin made his Supercar debut at Lydden Hill for the season opener, having only spent a couple of years in the Super1600 category with Set Promotion. Leppihalme ’s only Supercar experience before starting at Lydden was a test day in Holland, behind the wheel of the Pauwels Motorsport Ford Focus he is using on selected events this year. At the Lydden Hill event, Leppihalme drove like an experienced Supercar campaigner, seventh at the Intermediate Classification, and a third place in his semi-final was followed by second in the final, great reward, and just deserves for a fast and consistent drive.

Knowing before the start of the season that the budget wasn’t in place to do the whole year, Leppihalme and Pauwels made the decision to miss rounds two (Portugal) and three (Hungary) to be able to concentrate on the events in Scandinavia, and to hopefully showcase to sponsors that he is worth backing for more events to come this year.

“Lydden was great but I don’t have the budget for a full year,” said Leppihalme. “We have worked every day to get something together for the next three races; as long as there is not a big problem I will drive in Norway and Sweden too. It’s good to have live TV and maybe it will help to get money for more races. I will test the Focus tomorrow so that I can get a feel for the car again- I have not driven any racing car since Lydden so I need some time in a car.”

Toomas Heikkinen also returns to the FIA European Rallycross Championship in Finland, having last been seen in the series in 2011 piloting an Eklund Motorsport prepared Saab 93. His time since then has been spent driving an OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta in the Global Rallycross Championship and X-Games events. Having won the Finnish Championship in 2010, Heikkinen knows his way around the Kouvola Circuit. The young driver made his European championship debut at the track in 2010, making the C final in the process. Heikkinen finished second at the opening round of the Global Championship at X Games Brazil this year, sharing the podium with OMSE team mates Scott Speed and Patrik Sandell, he will be fast this weekend.

Impressive appearances by Brit Julian Godfrey at Lydden Hill, and Hungarian Zoltán Harsányi at Nyirad, their local RallycrossRX events, will give encouragement to the band of Finnish drivers at start in Kouvola this weekend, all hoping for a good result. Ari Perkiömäki won round one of the Finnish championship in his Ford Fiesta, finishing ahead of Janne Kanerva who also enters the event this weekend driving his ex-Hansen / Doran Citroen C4. The Ford Focus MkI of Atro Määttä is also a strong contender when the European championship visits finish soil. Silvo Viitanen is one of the more familiar names of the brigade of Finnish drivers, having raced at several European championship events over the last three or four years, previously in a Ford Focus and now with a Fiesta Mk7.

Toni Lukander is an interesting entry for this weekend’s encounter. He finished seventh in the Finnish championship season opener in a Mitsubishi Evo, and has entered his weekends event in an Eklund prepared Saab 93.





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