Ari Vatanen, the 1981 world rally champion, will compete in next month’s Finnish Rally. Will the Finn, now a member of the European parliament, challenge his countrymen Tommi Makinen and Marcus Gronholm on home turf?
Ari Vatanen, the 1981 world rally champion, will compete in next month’s Finnish Rally and recently completed a shakedown test in a Peugeot 206 WRC. Will the Finn, now a member of the European parliament, challenge his countrymen Tommi Makinen and Marcus Gronholm on home turf?
The veteran, who finished seventh overall in the 2003 Dakar Rally driving a South African-built Nissan Hardbody, tested the Bozian Racing prepared car in the Ardeche region of France. And after racking up more than 200km of testing on fast, narrow gravel roads, he felt comfortable behind the wheel of the Peugeot.
“I started gently and made some modifications to adapt the 206 to my driving,” said Vatanen. “We played with the differentials so that there was less blocking with the brakes. I don’t want understeer.”
Vatanen won the world title in 1981 when he was co-driven by BAR F1 team and WRC kingpin David Richards, but for Rally Finland in August, Fabrizia Pons will be reading the notes. Pons last co-drove for Vatanen on the Rally of Great Britain in 1998.
Meanwhile, Gronholm has had to seek hospital treatment for a mystery elbow injury. As CARtoday.com reported on Tuesday, team-mate Gilles Panizzi broke a rib during testing last month and world champion Gronholm was admitted into hospital last week after his right elbow suddenly swelled up. He was given a course of antibiotics for a suspected insect bite and has returned home to continue his recuperation.
“This is not the best thing that can happen,” Gronholm told . “It was incredible and I don’t know where it came from. The doctors think it was an insect that bit me in the middle of the elbow and then it got all infected and very red.”
Gronholm says the swelling has gone down and he’s confident he’ll be fit in time for the next round of the championship, Rally Deutschland, later this month.
Original article from Car