Keen DirtFish readers will be well aware of how challenging Arctic Rally Finland was – even for World Rally Championship veterans. Now imagine taking on the Arctic Circle for the first time in a four-wheel-drive, and you’ll begin to obtain a snapshot of what Sean Johnston and Alex Kihurani experienced in Finland.
Stepping up to WRC2, the mission for America’s aspiring World Rally Championship battlers is simple: to learn.
Errors are part of that process, and unfortunately the Citroën C3 Rally2 crew made one in the cold night of stage two where they went off-line and hit a snowbank that was “like mash potatoes” in Johnston’s words.
The six minutes this cost the pair threw any chance of a strong result out of the window, but again Johnston and Kihurani didn’t head to Rovaniemi to win. All in all, it was a solid performance and one Johnston was pleased to tick off, even if he wishes he had done a couple of things differently.
“Really in hindsight I wish we’d done two days’ testing,” he told DirtFish.
The roads were beautiful, the conditions were perfect and it was just really, really funAlex Kihurani on Arctic Rally Finland
“On Saturday afternoon we finally got the car to a place where I really enjoyed driving it. We had a decent test and I had a good feeling but then when you get out there in the proper stage conditions it’s just been a different ball game.
“But to only be a second a kilometer away from the top guys on the powerstage who were giving it absolutely everything, that’s a good feeling to come from 2-3s per km away at the beginning of the rally.
“We can be very, very proud of our development and progression and for our first snow rally in all-wheel-drive equipment it was a good step.”
“The locals were just so, so fast and were able to really use the grip,” Kihurani added, “so I guess we struggled a little bit for pace, but as far as the enjoyment the roads were beautiful, the conditions were perfect and it was just really, really fun.”
As ever, videographer Des Foley was on-hand to capture behind-the-scenes content from Johnston and Kihrauni’s Arctic Rally Finland as well as plenty of onboard footage and reactions to stage times.
Check out the latest two ‘Road to WRC’ episodes right here with action from Friday’s opening leg (above) and then the final two days on Saturday and Sunday (below).