The lure of the Arctic Circle’s superfast snow-covered stages has attracted one of the strongest WRC3 category entry lists ever seen, featuring a host of Nordic drivers plus challengers from further afield.
Many eyes will be on a pair of Swedish drivers who have both made their names as World Rallycross champions: Johan Kristoffersson and Mattias Ekström.
Kristoffersson is no stranger to the WRC, having achieved class podiums in Sweden and Finland in previous years at the wheel of a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5. He wheels out a similar car again this weekend in a bid for Arctic glory.
Ekström has entered a Škoda Fabia Rally2 and will also draw on previous rally experience from his time driving for the Czech marque’s factory team in 2005 and 2006. Former Junior WRC champion Emil Bergkvist will read the pace notes.
"Rally has been a lifelong passion of mine and going to the Arctic Rally Finland is a bucket-list dream that I finally get to tick off,” said the 42-year-old.
"For sure it will be great fun, but anyone who knows me knows that I like to win and I plan to put up a fight against the class regulars, although I know they have spent so much more time in rallying,” he added.
Flying Finn Teemu Asunmaa is the top seed in his Škoda, followed by Emil Lindholm’s similar car. Lindholm has shown promising pace on previous WRC3 outings including a podium finish last year in Sweden.
Eerik Pietarinen is another man who hopes to challenge for the top spot in Rovaniemi. Driving another Škoda, the Finn believes early pace will be key to a good result.
"My aim is to go flat out straight from the start. The speed will be extremely high and the same goes with the challengers. Snow banks may give a small help in places but we try to drive on the road anyway,” he said.
Hard-charging Estonian pilot Egon Kaur has entered a Volkwagen, whilst fellow countryman Gregor Jeets will drive a Škoda. Other local entries include Ville Ruokanen, Pekka Keski-Korsu and Tuomas Skantz.
Junior WRC graduate Fabrizio Zaldivar makes his WRC3 debut in a Fabia. Joining the Paraguayan youngster in the car is Dani Sordo’s ex co-driver Carlos del Barrio.
- Full coverage from Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.