Lindholm looks to the Future after positive Neste Rally Finland debut

30.7.2017 23:59Future Rally Star of Finland Emil Lindholm hopes to follow in the footsteps of some of the sport s greatest prospects after a competitive showing on his home round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Unfortunately, a likely second-place finish in the Junior WRC category was lost for the 21-year-old on the final day when he crashed his Ford Fiesta R2T on SS23, the first pass of Oittila.
"I was too fast into a tightening right hander and we rolled four times", he said. "The pace-note was clearly a bit too optimistic. It's a shame because our second place was safe."
Still, Lindholm can take positives from his Neste Rally Finland debut, having mixed it with the top Junior WRC drivers despite a lack of experience with the car. And although it was his home event, it was only his third gravel rally of the year, and he was up against drivers who had crucial experience of the challenging, high-speed roads used on the event.
"I have enjoyed the experience", he said. "It has been good to see that I can challenge on these hard roads."
"On Friday there were some really nice stages, and the times were OK. I made one small mistake and this knocked my confidence, but Saturday was better. On hard stages like Päijälä and Ouninpohja, I knew there was more to lose than there was to gain and I was quite gentle. This proved to be a good strategy because several other Juniors got into trouble here. I have learned a lot this weekend."
Lindholm earned his fully-funded drive in the Junior WRC, when he came out on top in a recent shootout held between five young drivers competing in the SM3 class of this year's Finnish Rally Championship. This tough assessment process tested reconnaissance and pacenote-making skills, mental strength, physical fitness and media awareness.
Arranged by AKK Sports, the promotional arm of Finland s motorsport federation which also organises Neste Rally Finland, the Future Rally Star of Finland initiative began in 2014 and its first winner was Teemu Suninen.
This weekend, Suninen has truly starred in only his second appearance at the sport's highest level, battling for second place (behind fellow World Rally Car rookie Esapekka Lappi) until the final day, and finishing up fourth. The 2015 winner Jari Huttunen has also impressed hugely, dominating WRC2 in what was his second start in a four-wheel drive car.
"It certainly shows it's possible, even though I know there are some things I need to work on", Lindholm says of his chances of reaching similar heights in the future.
A highly versatile driver, Lindholm returns to the race track next weekend for the latest round of the ADAC GT Masters series at the Nurburgring, but will be back out on the stages in September with a plan to contest both of the final rounds of the Finnish Championship.

Photo: AKK/Taneli Niinimäki