Thu 04 Jul 2024

Asunmaa and Korhola also aiming to fly high for Finland in ERC

It’s not just established ERC frontrunner Mikko Heikkilä who’s aiming to fly high for Finland on Delfi Rally Estonia, round four of the 2024 FIA European Rally Championship.

Teemu Asunmaa, Finnish champion four times including in 2023, and emerging talent Benjamin Korhola will join Heikkilä in the ERC’s headlining Rally2 category for three days of high-speed gravel action from 5 - 7 July.  

For Asunmaa, although the event marks his ERC debut, he’s more than aware of the strong competition he’ll face.  

“The level of competition is very high, there's no way around it,” 37-year-old Asunmaa said. “They also have more experience with the format of the events, as well as other events in the championship. But, we are all on the same starting line in the end, and we'll push as fast as we can.

“Of course the goals have to be set high every time you're doing an event, but I’m not stressing too much over how we’ll finish in terms of our placement. My personal goal is to drive a mistake-free rally on my own best level of performance, and if we succeed in that, we should be in for a decent finish.”  

Asunmaa is partnered by Ville Mannisenmäki, the son of Risto Mannisenmäki, who co-drove Tommi Mäkinen to the FIA World Rally Championship titles in 1998 and 1999.  

“The recce plays a very important role here, as I’m unfamiliar with the stages around Otepää and Tartu,” Škoda-powered Asunmaa continued. “Whilst the roads in Estonia are quite close to the roads in Finland, the surface is a bit different and the ruts will likely be bigger on the second pass. This is a key thing we're focusing on in our pre-event testing.”

World outing to aid Korhola’s European return
After making a strong impression on his Rally Estonia debut last season driving a Ford Fiesta Rally3 in the FIA WRC3 category, Benjamin Korhola (above) will be Hyundai i20 N Rally2-powered when he starts an FIA European Rally Championship round for the first time in the headlining ERC1 category alongside co-driver Sebastian Virtanen.   

Having finished third in ERC4 and Junior ERC on Tet Rally Liepāja in 2022, Korhola has landed three top-three placings in the Finnish championship this season driving for the Pacco Motorsport team, for which Delfi Rally Estonia represents its first outside its native Finland.  

“Preparation for the race has gone well,” Korhola said. “Successful tests in Finland brought small changes to the car, which felt good. In Estonia, we will do more testing on Tuesday to make the final adjustments and get a good race feeling.   

“The Estonian routes are very similar to last year, when we drove them with a Rally3 car, I liked those roads a lot.   

“I aim for my best performance of the season in Estonia, although the level will be very tough. However, I won't feel unnecessary pressure from that. You have to go full throttle right from the start if you want good positions.”  

Teemu Asunmaa photos: Merita Mäkinen / Meritapix
Benjamin Korhola photo: Jani Salonen

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM