EHSRC - Harri Toivonen, a winning return | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

EHSRC - Harri Toivonen, a winning return

25.04.18

The Finnish crew of Harri Toivonen-Cedric Wrede dominated Category 4 in their Ford Sierra Cosworth 4x4 during the 27th edition of the Historic Vltava Rallye in the Czech Republic, the second round of the FIA European Historic Sporting Rally Championship.

The Finnish crew of Harri Toivonen-Cedric Wrede dominated Category 4 in their Ford Sierra Cosworth 4x4 during the 27th edition of the Historic Vltava Rallye in the Czech Republic, the second round of the FIA European Historic Sporting Rally Championship.

In summer-like conditions, the second round of the FIA European Historic Sporting Rally Championship was held on the outskirts of Klatovy, in the Czech Republic. The event is always very popular among foreign competitors, particularly Scandinavian drivers, and the 2018 edition upheld this tradition.

Having had a 30-year break from competitive driving (apart from a few rare appearances at demo rallies), Harri Toivonen is back in full swing this year, competing in the Historic Rally Championship with a Group A Ford Sierra Cosworth 4x4 supported by the Spanish team Past-Racing. Second at the recent Rally Costa Brava in Spain, the Finn quickly found his bearings and asserted himself in the Czech Republic. In one swoop, he grabbed the provisional first place of the Championship in Category 4 (cars between 1982 and 1990). After running into turbo pressure problems at the start of the rally, he went on to obtain five of the fastest times during the eight special stages of the second day. Having led the race at the beginning of the rally, the Daniel Alonso-Candido Carrera crew came in second behind the wheel of another Past-Racing Sierra Cosworth, ahead of the BMW M3 of the Norwegians Valter Jensen and Erik Pedersen.

In Category 3 (cars from 1976 to 1981), the head-to-head battle between the Ford Escort RSs driven by Hungarian Ferenc Wirtmann and Spaniard Xesus Ferreiro, which took off at break-neck pace, unfortunately did not last long, as the Spaniard was forced to withdraw during the last special stage of the first day, due to fuel pressure problems. Wirtmann was therefore able to secure the victory, which propelled him to the top of the Championship’s provisional classification with a comfortable lead. His other opponents either ran into issues (Wagner’s Porsche) or abandoned the race (Van den Hoorn’s Escort had engine problems, and a drive shaft on Veikkanen’s Porsche broke).

Technically the favourite with his Porsche Carrera RS in Category 2 (cars from 1970 to 1975), the Finn Ville Silvasti did not have luck on his side either, a broken drive shaft severely penalising him from the very first timed section. Among the drivers competing in the European Championship, the Vltava Rallye was favourable to the American Iain Dobson and his Escort Mkl RS 1600. An American rally driver temporarily at the head of the European Championship – imagine that!

Not all Porsches in the race suffered mechanical issues. The inseparable duo of Antonio Parisi and Giuseppe D’Angelo emphatically won Category 1 (pre-1969 cars) in theirs, having won five weeks ago in Spain. Parisi beat the BMW 2002 Ti cars of the Finn Sverre Norrgard and the Italian Carlo Fiorito in the Czech Republic, who in turn stand in second and third place in the provisional classification of the Championship.

Having been dominated over the past few years by the Rododendri Historic Rally, the Team Trophy that is associated with the Championship currently offers an unusual trifecta, with the Scuderia Coppa Amici leading, by just four points, ahead of the Spanish Past-Racing team. The Historic Rally Club Finland, which has the highest quota of drivers (each team can enter up to eight cars), holds third place. There is still a long way to go in this Championship, with six events remaining, the next one scheduled for 24-26 May in Spain, at the Rally Asturias Historico.

The provisional classifications of the FIA European Historic Sporting Rally Championship can be viewed at this link. A selection of photos from the Historic Vltava Rallye can be found here.