What a horribly miserable start to the day. Waking up to the news that one of my heroes has said his final goodnight was not good.
We knew Hannu had been poorly for quite some time now, but as with everything in the modern world, life happens and it slips your mind that one of the legendary, cornerstone figures to our world is suffering. We were brutally reminded of that fact this morning.
I want to write something longer, something more personal and that will come next week. For now, I want to send sincere condolences to his family. He was a great man and you should all be rightly proud to have called him a husband, father and grandfather.
It’s fair to say, the passing of a Finnish legend cast a shadow over the second day of a Finnish round of the World Rally Championship.
But there were shining lights that lifted that gloom. Shining light number one had to be Oliver Solberg. What a day he had.
After making a preview video for the second day – and talking about our 1983 world champion – Colin and I headed away to float around the morning’s loop of stages. We were going to go into the first one to spectate, but Clark was so convinced action would be happening in the “Swamp stage” that we waited to catch aftermath on the road section.
Nothing happened. Just like last night’s Clark-predicted blizzard became a 30-second shower.
Colin’s guile and expertise did come into its own in the afternoon, when he insisted we take a look at the evolving conditions in the Siikakäma stage. There hours before the stage was due to run, we parked up at the finish and took a long walk in. Ultimately, it was the final few corners that were the most interesting and the place where the most gravel was coming through.
“This one,” he insisted, standing in the stage’s final, off-camber, around fourth-gear left-hander. “Look at how the right-hand side of the car’s loaded up: we’re through to gravel here, but there’s still ice where the left-hand wheels have been. This is where we make our video.”
There was no arguing with him. He made his video and then we watched as none other than Sébastien Ogier was caught out when his loaded-up right-rear stepped out of the ruts on the camber and speared the snowbank.
— dirtfishrally (@DirtFishRally) February 27, 2021
Trust me, he was insufferable for a very long time. Even more so when the seven-time champion took to Twitter to tell him: “I’m going to offer you a crystal ball.”
What’s the word for doubly insufferable?
One of the other highlights of an otherwise emotional day was a trip to Santa’s very own Salmon house. Finn’s are absolutely superb at rallying and they’re almost as good at preparing salmon. Our friend took two huge chunks of fish, put them on a board, sprinkled some sugar on top and cooked them next to an open fire for a while. It was utterly delicious.
Back to Rovaniemi for the final media zone and, guess what: it started snowing.
“See, I told you, it’s a blizzard!”
Twenty-four hours later, but Col got his blizzard (even though for his Saturday forecast he’d predicted skies so clear we’d be able to: “Watch the northern lights dancing from here to the North Pole.”).
See you tomorrow for the final day in Rovaniemi.