Bottas to drive WRC-winning Fiesta

F1 star Valtteri Bottas will drive M-Sport Ford’s WRC-winning Fiesta World Rally Car when he makes his rally debut at Finland’s Arctic Lapland Rally (24 - 26 January).

The Mercedes Grand Prix driver will be partnered by double world champion co-driver Timo Rautiainen when he pilots the same specification Fiesta in which Sébastien Ogier lifted this year’s WRC title.

“This is a unique opportunity to take a peek into the world of rallying. It’s totally new territory for me too, as I have no prior experience of a World Rally Car,” said Bottas, who finished fifth in this season’s F1 standings.

”Still, being the race car driver that I am, you always go flat out whatever the vehicle you’re driving in!”

Mentoring Bottas at the two-day opening round of the Finnish Championship, which features 240km of snow and ice-covered speed tests inside the Arctic Circle, will be Rautiainen, who won the world title alongside Marcus Grönholm in 2000 and 2002.

The pair scored a hat-trick of Arctic wins from 1996 to 1998 and this will be Rautiainen’s first competitive outing since a one-off appearance alongside Grönholm at Rally Sweden in 2010.

Bottas (photo by Jan-Erik Olin) will be partnered by double world champion co-driver Timo Rautiainen

”It’s a big challenge because Valtteri has never driven in a rally before so he doesn’t know anything about pace notes,” he told wrc.com.

”The biggest challenge for him will be to understand the idea of pace notes and selecting a suitable system. We’ll look at onboard vidoes and the system used by different drivers before choosing, but it has to be a simple method.”

They will practise making notes in a road car on public roads initially and will have a two-day test in the Fiesta immediately before the rally.

Bottas is the latest in a series of Finnish F1 drivers to tackle the daunting rally, where temperatures can plunge below -30°C. Others include Keke Rosberg, Mika Häkkinen, Mika Salo, Kimi Räikkönen and Heiki Kovalainen.

Governing body AKK-Motorsport has organised the drive under its Flying Finn concept, which is designed to develop world class drivers. The Fiesta will carry the Flying Finn insignia on a blue and white livery.

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