First Arctic Rally Finland a sporting and financial success

*Spectacular sporting event showcased Rovaniemi and Finnish motorsport excellence

*Event generates strong income levels and avoids any loss-making

*AKK Sports ready to host more WRC winter rallies in the future

Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox delivered the desired financial results and generated media values of almost 50 million euros, the findings of a detailed report reveal.

Commissioned to study the financial impact of Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox, the report assessed the costs associated with hosting round two of the 2021 FIA World Rally Championship from February 26-28, and how the return on investment and income generated ensured no financial loss was incurred by the event organiser, AKK Sports, through its high-level operation.

The report also detailed the event’s media coverage delivered an advertising value equivalency of close to 50 million euros for host city Rovaniemi, which will return to being a major year-long Arctic Circle tourism hub when pandemic restrictions allow.

Commenting on the report’s findings and reflecting on the success of Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox, Riku Bitter, the CEO of AKK Sports, said: “As well as delivering a spectacular winter rallying showcase, Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox was a clear demonstration of what could be achieved in a very short space of time when dedicated individuals join forces and go to great lengths to deliver a first-class international sporting event. It was an event that underlined in no uncertain terms all that is good about expertise within Finnish motorsport. The cooperation with local partners and local authorities was excellent. From the point of view of AKK Sports, the desired financial result was achieved, in that the costs required to run the event were reimbursed in full so there was no loss of money whatsoever. As a result of the very successful first edition of Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox we have expressed to the WRC Promoter our readiness to hold another winter WRC rally in the future.”

Sanna Kärkkäinen, managing director of Visit Rovaniemi, said: “Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox brought exceptional and international visibility to Rovaniemi. The visibility of the event in international media was billions of impressions and the media values ​​reached almost 50 million euros. The magnificent winter landscapes welcomed this high-speed event and the best world rally drivers in the Arctic Circle and offered an incredible visibility to Rovaniemi. Taking place during the pandemic in a safe and wonderful way showed an example of event which has deep roots in the Rovaniemi rally tradition and the wonderful spirit of doing it.”

Heikki Poranen, chairman of the organising committee of the national-level Arctic Lapland Rally, said: “On behalf of the Motoring Club of Rovaniemi, I am sincerely grateful that we had the opportunity to take part in this first winter World Rally Championship event in history in Finland. The rally organisers in Rovaniemi proved their tough skills this winter by successfully organising two great events within a month and we are happy that we were able to bring a boost to the Rovaniemi business community in these challenging times by keeping everyone safe. After such a successful event, we hope that we will be able to welcome again another world class event. I wish to thank everybody for their efforts.”

Members of the AKK Sports team are currently completing preparations for the 70th anniversary Rally Finland, which is scheduled to take place from October 1-3.



Day three report: Tänak wins Arctic Rally Finland, Rovanperä is new WRC leader

*Järveoja co-drives fellow Estonian Tänak to stunning victory for Hyundai

*Santa Claus, Rovaniemi’s most famous resident, presents the winners’ trophies

*Wolf Power Stage pacesetter Rovanperä finishes second and tops the WRC standings

*Lappi and Asunmaa claim WRC2 and WRC3 gold for Finland respectively

*FIA President Jean Todt joins rallying community in honouring legend Mikkola 

Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja scored their 14th FIA World Rally Championship triumph with a dominant victory on the first Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox, which reached a thrilling climax south of event base in Rovaniemi earlier today.

Driving a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC for the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team, the Estonians led from the start and were exceptional throughout on the high-speed Lapland forest roads, which provided a spectacular backdrop to this all-new event – and stunning images for fans watching on TV and online in the safety of their homes around the world.

“First when you come to a new event you never know what to expect,” said Tänak, who was also the winner when the WRC last visited Finland for the traditional Jyväskylä-based Rally Finland in the summer of 2019. “This weekend we came to Finland, kind of home country of Toyota and also Rovanperä was expected to be very strong. The pressure was there for sure and we knew it was going to be very, very complicated to take the fight. But in the end we did a very good weekend, just enough, nothing too much and only one mistake yesterday. [Lapland] is an amazing place, definitely one of the best place to have a winter rally, I guess there is no place you can have more snow and also the characteristic of the roads, especially yesterday it was so demanding.”

Placing 17.5s behind Tänak/Järveoja, Flying Finns Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen secured the runner-up spot – their best finish in the WRC to date – after winning the Wolf Power Stage in their Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT-entered Yaris WRC. 

The result puts them on top of the FIA World Rally Championship after two rounds, with Rovanperä becoming the youngest driver in history to lead the title order. 

“For sure this weekend I wanted to fight for the top place but I made a mistake and we were not in the optimal pace,” said the 20-year-old, who was the only leading driver to carry two spare Pirelli Sottozero Ice tyres on leg three. “But I have to say I was pushing the whole weekend, maximum all the time. It was a good weekend from my side and Jonne’s side. We did everything that we could. It’s nice to get the P2 here. It was not the perfect weekend but quite nice.”

Craig Breen/Paul Nagle had an eventful start to Sunday’s deciding leg when their Hyundai mechanics heroically completed a gearbox change during this morning’s 15-minute service at the Santasport complex in Rovaniemi. Although Breen wasn’t satisfied with his first run through the 22.47-kilometre Aittjärvi stage, he was second quickest when the test was repeated as the points-paying Wolf Power Stage, a performance that secured fourth in the overall results behind third-placed Hyundai team-mates Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe.

Neuville/Wydaeghe, who were competing together for only the second time, were the highest-seeded finishers, having started the event in third position on the road. The Belgians were 2.3s behind Rovanperä/Halttunen after the 10 flat-out, ice-packed stages.

Elfyn Evans/Scottt Martin finished fifth with Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt snatching sixth place in the overall classification by 1.2s from Oliver Solberg/Sebastian Marshall when the teenaged World Rally Car rookie spun into a snowbank a handful of corners from the finish of the Wolf Power Stage. 

Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais also spun at the same corner, although a technical issue had already slowed their Hyundai after they restarted on day three following technical issues on Saturday.

Finns Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula headed home M-Sport Ford team-mates Gus Greensmith/Elliott Edmondson in eighth. Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm secured the WRC2 category honours in a fine 10th position following a dominant display by the Finns. Another all-Finnish pairing, Teemu Asunmaa/Marko Salminen, won WRC3.

“It was a strong weekend definitely,” said Lappi. “I am so grateful for my sponsors to have the chance to be here. I am really glad that we had a high level of competition in our class. It went better than I expected. I could’ve driven faster. There is no need to drive with the same ‘attack mode’ than in the WRC class.”

Janne Tuohino/Reeta Hämäläinen were non-starters this morning after Tuhino dislocated his left shoulder in a non-rallying accident. 

Following their time-consuming off into a snowbank on Saturday’s final stage, world champions Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia, secured the final Wolf Power Stage point with the fifth fastest time behind rally winners Tänak/Järveoja.  

FIA President Jean Todt joins rallying community in honouring legend Mikkola 

Jean Todt, President of the FIA, motorsport’s world governing body, joined the rallying community in remembering the life of legendary Finn Hannu Mikkola during a minute of silence prior to the podium ceremony. Mikkola, the 1983 FIA World Rally champion whom Todt once co-drove during his competition career, passed away on Friday evening aged 78.

Mayor of Rovaniemi reflects on hugely successful first Arctic Rally Finland

The Mayor of Rovaniemi, Ulla-Kirsikka Vainio, has commented following a hugely successful inaugural Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox

“It has been a great pleasure and we are very honoured to have the WRC event here in Rovaniemi,” she said. “The Arctic Rally Finland fits perfectly into our winter. I would like to thank the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), AKK Sports and several others involved in the organising process. Having the eyes of the international rallying world turning to our arctic and wintry hometown thanks to this event has been fantastic. Whenever the COVID-19 situation allows it, we wish everyone warmly welcome to Rovaniemi for a visit.”



Event website: https://arcticrallyfinland.fi/en/home/

Rally Radio: http://yle.fi/mmralli

Rovaniemi: https://www.visitrovaniemi.fi


Day two report: Rovanperä up to second but Tänak holds firm on Arctic Rally Finland

*Hyundai driver Tänak is two stages from WRC glory in Lapland

*Rovanperä set for final-stage fight with Neuville for the runner-up spot

*Flying Finn Lappi heading for WRC2 victory, Asunmaa leads WRC3

Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox’s longest day served up more high-speed drama in Lapland’s winter wonderland with Finns Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen moving up to second overall in their Toyota Yaris WRC.

However, there’s no stopping Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC pair Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja, who continue to lead round two of the 2021 FIA World Rally Championship.

With two stages to go on Sunday, including the points-paying Wolf Power Stage, Tänak/Järveoja lead by 24.1s.

Starting Saturday’s second leg with an advantage of 16.2s, Tänak/Järveoja extended that margin by winning stage three, Mustalampi. Although Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin were the team to beat on SS4, Tänak/Järveoja added SS5 and SS6 to their tally of stage wins.

Rovanperä/Halttunen were fastest on SS7 as Tänak switched to tyre preservation mode, the Estonian wary of how patches of gravel and ruts on the repeated stages were compromising the level of stud retention on his Pirelli Sottozero Ice tyres.

“We took all the tyres we had and we used them,” said Tänak. “This afternoon was about to get through and not do any mistaks. This morning we were still pushing a bit but the afternoon was very important to come through clean.”

While Tänak/Järveoja were quick on SS8, it was their team-mates Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe who were quicker still by an impressive 12.3s on the night-time run through Siikakämä, a performance that has put them to within 1.8s of second-placed Rovanperä/Halttunen. 

Rovanperä/Halttunen won SS7 but the 20-year-old driver reported running out of optimal grip for SS8. But they have been given the greenlight by Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT team principal Jari-Matti Latvala to push hard to defend their runner-up spot on Sunday.

Craig Breen/Paul Nagle completed leg two in fourth overall, one place ahead of Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin. Teenage talent Oliver Solberg is a fine sixth on his World Rally Car debut with stand-in co-driver Seb Marshall, despite losing his glasses before Saturday’s final stage.

World champions Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia were sixth prior to SS8 but hit trouble within sight of the finish, going off two corners from the end and getting stuck in a snowbank. The Frenchmen spent some 20 minutes digging out their Yaris WRC before they were able to complete the run.

“Last real corner, the tyre were gone,” said Ogier. “I was a little bit too much sideway, hit the bank and then catch the front. I almost made it to the end. It’s a weekend to forget when you come here first on the road it’s always the same.”

Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt are seventh followed by M-Sport’s Flying Finns, Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula, in their Ford Fiesta WRC. Gus Greensmith/Ellliott Edmondson are ninth with runaway WRC2 leaders Esapakka Lappi/Janne Ferm 10th.  

Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais retired with a technical issued after SS6. Emil Lindholm/Mikael Korhonen were leading WRC3 but crashed out on SS4. Teemu Asunmaa/Marko Salminen lead the category as a resullt, 12.5s ahead of Estonians Egon Kaur/Silver Simm.



The inaugural Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox will be decided over two runs of the 22.47-killometreAittajärvi stage south of Rovaniemi at 10:08 and 13:12 local time tomorrow (Sunday). Featuring a section through the farmhouses at Niemelä, the second visit forms the Wolf Power Stage when WRC drivers’ and manufacturers’ bonus points will be up for grabs.


Event website: https://arcticrallyfinland.fi/en/home/

Rally Radio: http://yle.fi/mmralli

Rovaniemi: https://www.visitrovaniemi.fi


More information and media activities:

Linda Hirvonen, National Press Officer, +358 (0) 45 3299696, linda.hirvonen@autourheilu.fi



Arctic Rally Finland organisers remember Hannu Mikkola

Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox organisers are saddened to learn of the passing of Hannu Mikkola, an original Flying Finn and the winner of the 1983 FIA World Rally Championship. 

Mikkola, who was 78 and won the Finnish title in 1968, was synonymous for his success with Audi but he also enjoyed standout moments with Toyota and Ford, with whom he challenged for the 1979 WRC title.

He made 123 starts at world level and scored 18 wins. His final appearance in the WRC was, appropriately, on Rally Finland in 1993, but be continued competing for several seasons and was a regular on historic events.

A legend and a gentleman, Mikkola’s life will be honoured with a minute of silence on the finishing podium in Rovaniemi on Sunday. 

All the thoughts of the entire Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox organising team are with Mikkola family and has many friends.


Day one report: Tänak on top on Arctic Rally Finland

*Estonian leads all-new winter spectacular in factory Hyundai after opening leg

*Former world champion fastest on Friday’s two stages east of Rovaniemi

*Rovanperä is best-placed Finn for Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

*Flying Finn Lappi leads WRC2, Lindholm in front in WRC3

Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja delivered a winter-driving masterclass to lead Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox following the opening two action-packed stages in the frozen forests of Lapland today (Friday).

Competing in a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, the Estonian pair were fastest on both runs through the 31.05-kilometre Sarriojärvi test, which provided a stern challenge as round two of the 2021 FIA World Rally Championship got underway on spectacular ice-coated roads east of host city Rovaniemi.

After beating their Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team team-mates Craig Breen and Paul Nagle on the first pass – held this afternoon – by 3.6s, the 2019 WRC champions were 9.8s quicker than Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen, their closest challengers on the after-dark rerun.

Unlike the bulk of his rivals, Tänak opted to carry one spare Pirelli Sottozero Ice tyre in his Hyundai and took full advantage of the weight saving (some 23 kilograms) and his seventh-place road position to make the perfect start to Finland’s all-new world championship event. 

However, he did concede that preserving his tyres became a chief concern, particularly when sections of gravel emerged on the road on SS2. He drove even more impeccably as a result. 

“It’s still very, very early so no reason yet to think about anything,” said Tänak, who holds a 16.2s overnight advantage. “It’s been challenging and let’s say a typical rollercoaster for Finland, a very technical and up and down stage, so it was a big job. At the moment we are leading but the road position was different to the Toyota guys and everything can change tomorrow, so we just need to keep focused and keep pushing. On the second loop for sure [the road position benefited us]. With the lines like this I’m sure Seb [Ogier] was not really enjoying.”

Behind Tänak, Breen, who is making his first start of 2021, has been on impressive form although he felt he could have gone faster still on SS1. 

Rovanperä, meanwhile, lost time when he slid into a snowbank on the first stage and then reported dropping further precious seconds when his Toyota Yaris WRC began to understeer on SS2.

After going fourth fastest on SS1, Thierry Neuville and new-for-2021 co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe languished in seventh on SS2. “I had a lot of understeer towards the end,” Neuville said after the run. “I took out a bit of speed at some point and I really struggled to turn. Also, with Martijn we are still working and sometimes I struggled to really clearly understand so we need to work on that.”

Neuville/Wydaeghe are fourth overall, one place ahead of Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt. Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula are sixth for the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team followed by Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt, the Japanese driver reporting a suspected puncture on SS2.

Nineteen-year-old Oliver Solberg is a fine eighth on his World Rally Car debut and his first event with stand-in co-driver Seb Marshall.

World champions Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia, running first on the road and struggling through the loose-surface snow in their Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT entry, are ninth overall with Gus Greensmith/Elliott Edmondson in 10th position.

Co-driven by Vincent Landais, Pierre-Louis Loubet was a strong sixth after SS1, but picked up a slow puncture two kilometres from the start of SS2 and has dropped down the order as a result.

Finns Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm lead WRC2 followed by Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov and Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene. Emil Lindholm/Mikael Korhonen, another all-Finnish pair, lead WRC3.



Saturday’s leg, the longest of the rally at 144.04 kilometres, is based around Vanttauskoski close to Rovaniemi, and features three stages used twice with the leg-ending test run at night. The 24.43 kilometres of Mustalampi (SS3), which runs over the top of a frozen swamp at one point, is first on the itinerary from 09:08 local time. Also counting as SS6 from 15:38, Mustalampi, ends with a spectacular charge through a driver training area. 


Event website: https://arcticrallyfinland.fi/en/home/

Rally Radio: http://yle.fi/mmralli

Rovaniemi: https://www.visitrovaniemi.fi


More information and media activities:

Linda Hirvonen, National Press Officer, +358 (0) 45 3299696, linda.hirvonen@autourheilu.fi