Fiesta of Flying Finn Ketomaa untouchable in New Zealand
Jari Ketomaa (FIN) and co-driver Mika Stenberg led the fourth round of the 2010 FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship from start to finish in a stylish performance at Rally New Zealand this weekend. After set-up problems on the previous S-WRC round in Jordan left the Finnish Fiesta driver, representing Shanghai FCACA Rally Team, China’s first ever world rally team, almost an hour behind S-WRC then winner Xevi Pons (ESP) by the end of the rally, he was back to prove himself. Untouched by the competition, Ketomaa clocked 10 stage victories en route and finished the event 54.1 seconds ahead of second-placed Pons. He also scoops himself four WRC points for finishing eighth in the overall event standings.

After taking home maximum points from México and Jordan, his first two nominated rounds in the 2010 S-WRC, Pons gained another 18 points in New Zealand for second place, reinforcing his position at the top of the S-WRC leaderboard. He was however unable to catch the flying Finn and fellow Fiesta driver, despite collecting three stage wins and suffering no major problems over the course of the event. He also picked up the last available WRC point for finishing tenth in the overall standings for Rally New Zealand.

Behind Ketomaa and Pons a close three-day battle raged for the final place on the podium. Two-time P-WRC World Champion Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) fought with two J-WRC Champions, Czech driver Martin Prokop and Swede Patrik Sandell. Prokop’s Fiesta finally triumphed over the two Škodas, putting him second in the 2010 SWRC standings to Pons, albeit 20 points adrift, while Sandell finished the event in fourth. Al-Attiyah had to settle for fifth after missing a pace note on SS12 which meant he overshot a junction and lost 25 seconds. The Stewards of the rally rejected his enquiry over his time on SS15 when he was held up as Prokop retook the road having stopped at an accident.

Albert Llovera (AND) retired on SS12 on Day Two due to engine failure on his Fiat Abarth Grande Punto. After a challenging event, Finnish Fiesta driver Janne Tuohino’s rally was finally stopped by engine problems on SS21, the last stage of the rally.

1st – JARI KETOMAA (FIN): “After the disaster in Jordan this was a great rally. We started well, but Pons pushed us hard so we couldn't ever really relax. The team has done a great job which has resulted in a great experience for us.”

2nd – XEVI PONS (ESP): “It was not an easy day for us. These tyres aren't working well and it was very slippery on the stages, but our team did an amazing job. The car is working well, so it is a great result for us. We are now very confident going into Portugal.”

3rd – MARTIN PROKOP (CZE): “We lost a little time on the first stage today which wasn't so good. The car was great though. We will now go to Finland and definitely try to get some more points and catch Ketomaa. It was a fantastic rally with great roads and we are very happy that we got the job done.”

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