Double Formula One World Champion Mika Häkkinen successfully completed a three day test for the Arctic Rally in Lapland in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution WRC2.
Häkkinen will drive the Mitsubishi Lancer WRC2 on the Rally near Rovaniemi in the very north of Finland January, 24 and 25. Häkkinen, who won the Formula One Drivers' Championship in 1998 and 1999 for West McLaren Mercedes, retired from F1 racing one year ago after eleven years. Mitsubishi Motors - DaimlerChrysler allied partner - won the World Rally Championship Manufacturer' title in 1998, and the Drivers' title four times in a row, between 1996 and 1999, all with Lancer Evolutions.
"I have been at the Arctic Rally several times as a spectator and it was always very fascinating, not only the performance of the drivers on ice and snow but also how the mechanics were doing their job in the very cold conditions", said Häkkinen. "I always dreamed of participating in this Rally once. The alliance between DaimlerChrysler and Mitsubishi Motors made it possible to realise my dream. I am very happy and really want to thank them. For me it is part of the whole family feeling which I had since I was driving Formula 1 for Mercedes-Benz. Even though I’m retired from F1, I’m still member of the family."
After three days of testing on a frozen lake, a frozen river and at the end through the forest, Häkkinen said: "The Mitsubishi Lancer WRC2 is a fantastic competition car. For me it is completely different to what I have done before. I have been driving formula cars since I was a very young kid. In the last three days I really had to learn a lot, like changing gears, going extremely sideways and listening to the co-drivers comments. You really need to be pretty brave to compete well. So its helpful indeed to do the preparations and the rally itself with this very professional and experienced Mitsubishi Ralliart team."
Sven Quandt, Head of the Mitsubishi Motor Sports operations, said: "I was deeply impressed how professional Mika started and how quickly he learned to handle a rally car on ice and snow. His progress during these three days was enormous and we are looking forward to the next test days. We all are very proud that Mika is going to compete in a Mitsubishi. Not only does Mitsubishi benefit from Mika’s high popularity in Finland and all over the world, the entire rally sport does so."
The start and finish of the Arctic Rally will be in Rovaniemi near the Arctic Circle. It will include 15 special stages in harsh weather conditions with temperatures dropping below -20 C.
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