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Finland (J) - 3-5 Aug 07

Posted: August 8, 2007 2:12 PM - 7236 Hits

Round 9 - 2007 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 3 - 2007 International Fiesta SportingTrophy

  • O’Mahony and Higgins finish an eventful Rally Finland
  • Gallagher still on top after Finnish Rally
  • Mission accompanied for Team Abu Dhabi in Finland
  • Photos

Posted: August 8, 2007 2:12 PM


O’Mahony and Higgins finish an eventful Rally Finland
County Cork driver Brian O’Mahony and County Mayo co-driver John Higgins completed their first event at World Rally Championship (WRC) level as they finished an eventful Rally Finland last weekend (2-5 August).

The Irish crew came home 64th overall and 13th in class A6 on the four-day gravel event in their OM Concrete Products and Fitz Samuels Insurance-backed Super 1600 Renault Clio, run by O’Leary Motorsport, as they made the step-up from national championship standard to compete against the world’s best across the famous Finland forest stages.

But the rally did not run entirely smoothly for the pair. Friday saw O’Mahony and Higgins struggle with the set-up of the car and they also experienced problems with the brakes early on.

Further disappointment struck on Saturday when on the road section out to the opening stage of the day, a rose joint on the bottom arm snapped and the crew had to sit out all of Saturday’s action before re-entering on Sunday under the SupeRally rules.

Sunday provided its fair share of problems as on the second stage of the day the pair hit a big rock about six kilometres in and broke a damper whilst they also picked up a slow puncture on the same test and completed the final six kilometres on the wheel rim.

An overshoot at a junction in the last stage cost them at least 15 seconds but they still ended-up an impressive 19 seconds off the fastest Super 1600 crew, complete with broken damper, as they made it to the finish of the rally in the town of Jyvaskyla on Sunday.

“Overall I was happy with my pace,” 22-year-old O’Mahony said. “I was annoyed that I missed out on Saturday because I could have probably finished a lot closer to the top Super 1600 lads who were competing. I did find it really tough out there, I hadn’t done a gravel rally for over a year.

“But overall, despite the problems, we had a great time and it was a great experience.”

O’Mahony and Higgins will compete on another WRC event this year when they do their home rally, Rally Ireland, in November.
They will next be in action when they return to the Dunlop National Championship, which they are contesting this season, as they compete on round eight, the Galway Summer Rally, on Sunday 26 August.


Gallagher still on top after Finnish Rally
Donegal’s Shaun Gallagher maintained his lead in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship “Rookie” class by 14 points after this weekend’s Rally Finland.

Despite finding it tough going over the first leg’s stages, Gallagher grew in confidence over leg 2 and 3 to deliver another sound result, coming in behind Raphael Auquier of the Kronos Citroen team. Gallagher said: “Rally Finland is very quick with a lot of fast crests and quite rough in places. You have to be constantly on your guard and avoid making mistakes. I’m glad to have brought this safely home and kept a good lead in the Rookie Championship.”

In World Rally Championship Action, Finland’s Marcus Gronholm and co-driver Timo Rautiainen came home in first place, ahead of BP Ford World Rally Team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen, with France’s Sébastin Loeb taking third place for Citroen.

Grönholm's win, his 29th career success, was his seventh Rally Finland triumph in eight seasons. He becomes the first driver in the sport's history to win a full WRC event on seven occasions and extended his lead in the drivers' standings to 13 points.

Shaun Gallagher will compete in two weeks time in Rallye Deutschland before his final round in Catalunya in September. He will also, no doubt, also be seeking an entry in Rally Ireland when the WRC makes its debut from 15th – 18th November this year.


Mission accompanied for Team Abu Dhabi in Finland
This weekend saw a perfect start to the ground-breaking partnership between the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi and the reigning FIA World Rally Champions, BP-Ford World Rally Team.

Championship leader Marcus Grönholm took a record seventh win on home soil in the first of the Abu Dhabi-branded Ford Focus RS WRC07s, with team-mate Mikko Hirvonen second, the pair having dominated the event from the off. Team Abu Dhabi driver Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi, making his debut in a World Rally Car on the championship’s fastest event, achieved his goal of reaching the finish of the event having learned a vast amount over the three days of competition in the spiritual home of rallying.

The crews faced a total of 23 stages over the event, beginning with the familiar superspecial stage at the Killeri trotting track on the outskirts of Jyvaskyla on Thursday evening. Finland was the first event where the BP-Ford World Rally Team cars carried Abu Dhabi branding, following the recent announcement of the partnership between the UAE capital and Ford.

Present to witness this perfect start to the relationship was Director of Product Development, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, Ahmed Hussein. “We could not have hoped for a better beginning to our relationship with Ford,” said Hussein. “I have been extremely impressed with the dedication and hard work put in by the team, the drivers and the co-drivers and this result confirms that the relationship with Ford and the WRC was the right choice for Abu Dhabi, as part of our on-going programme to develop international awareness of the emirate as a world-class destination.

“Marcus and Mikko have done a fantastic job to increase the lead in both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships. Sheikh Khalid has also performed very well, achieving his goal of completing the event and representing Abu Dhabi at the highest level of rallying.

“The reception that the Abu-Dhabi branded cars received here this weekend has been incredible. The fans in Finland are extremely passionate about the sport and it has been amazing witnessing their reaction to our presence.”

Al Qassimi began the event with the objective of ensuring he got to the finish while learning as much as possible. Finland represents one of the hardest challenges to any driver, thanks to the high speeds and succession of blind crests and corners, requiring commitment and knowledge to succeed.

He began with a measured pace, learning the surface and how the Focus WRC06 behaved on the stages. He completed the first leg of the event in 25th place before tackling the awesome Ouninpohja stage twice on the second day, one of the most renowned in the WRC. At 33km long, it represents the hardest challenge of the event and one that Al Qassimi was relishing, despite understanding how decisive it could prove to be.

As it transpired, he acquitted himself extremely well, recording a time just two minutes slower than Grönholm who won both stages. This represented a speed around 88% of the winner, who took his seventh Finnish victory this weekend.

By the end of the second day, Al Qassimi and co-driver Nicky Beech had climbed from 25th to 18th overall, a remarkable achievement for any driver debuting in a World Rally Car. Just three short stages stood between him and Team Abu Dhabi’s first WRC finish as the crews headed out for the final leg of the event.

Following the huge learning exercise, Al Qassimi pushed harder on the final morning and climbed two positions on the first stage, following the retirement of two cars. He continued to use the experience he was gaining throughout the morning, recording increasingly competitive times right to the finish of the event, in front of thousands of rally fans in Jyvaskyla. He reached the finish ramp having gained a further two positions, completing 360Km of competition in 16th place.

“It has been an incredible experience to represent Abu Dhabi here in Finland and I am indebted to the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority for making it possible,” said Al Qassimi. “I’m very happy for Abu Dhabi and of course, personally and that Marcus and Mikko got such a fantastic result for the team.

“It’s been extremely hard work but we have learned so much over the event. It’s been incredibly special - more than I ever thought it would be. Of course I’m now looking forward to the next event, so that we can continue our learning experience and fly the UAE flag once more.”

The next event for the Abu Dhabi-partnered team is in two weeks’ time, on the next round of the WRC, the ADAC Rallye Deutschland. Hussein is already looking forward to the event, where the team will once again be flying the Abu Dhabi flag. “This has been a perfect start to the ADTA’s programme in the WRC. I am confident that the Abu Dhabi-backed BP-Ford World Rally Team will maintain its momentum as it chases its second manufacturer title. I am also sure that Team Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Khalid will continue to progress and represent the UAE in front of the world’s rally fans.”



PRE EVENT NEWS
  • O'Mahony and Higgins set for WRC level debut on Rally Finland
  • Entry List available
  • Gareth Jones/James O'Brien enter under Stobart
  • Brian O'Mahony/John Higgins also enter Finland
  • Event Website:

27/07/07
O'Mahony and Higgins set for WRC level debut on Rally Finland
County Cork driver Brian O’Mahony and County Mayo co-driver John Higgins will make their debuts at World Rally Championship (WRC) level when they contest next week’s four-day Rally Finland (2-5 August).

The Irish crew will tackle the famous Finland forest gravel stages in their OM Concrete Products and Fitz Samuels Insurance-backed Super 1600 Renault Clio, run by O’Leary Motorsport, as they make the step-up from national championship standard to compete against the world’s best on the WRC stage.

The 2005 British Super 1600 Champions have been contesting the Dunlop National Rally Championship in Ireland this season in which they are currently second in class 6, with O’Mahony 11th in the overall drivers’ standings and Higgins 12th equal on the co-drivers’ leaderboard.

The pair will make a return to an unfamiliar loose surface when they compete in round nine of the WRC as they simply look to gain some more experience.

“It’s my first event at that level and I don’t expect much to be honest,” 22-year-old O’Mahony said. “I just want to go out there and get the mileage.

“I’m looking forward to the event and I can’t wait to get back out there on the gravel. I haven’t done a gravel rally for over a year and even then I’ve only ever done about four!

“The stages out there seem really nice but I’ve been talking to a few people and they’ve said that it actually gets very rough in a few places so we’ll see. I spectated there two years ago and it seemed like an amazing rally to do.”

Rally Finland is based in the town of Jyvaskyla and consists of 360km of stage miles across the four days. O’Mahony and Higgins will start at car number 91.


17/07/07
Entry list on event website:
01/07/07
Gareth Jones/James O'Brien have entered Finland, as part of a 4 car Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team

Cork S1600 Driver Brian O'Mahony has also entered in the Clio

Shaun Gallagher continues his JWRC Rookie Challenge

Gareth MacHale is not expected the take part.

List of Entries to date on:

Topics: FINLAND 

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