|- 28.12.2000 -
Championship-car sold !
Reliable and victorious Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6 has been sold to Finland near Marko`s homecity Oulu. Marko has bought instead an older Group-N Evolution 4 Mitsubishi, which will be used in events with sponsors and will be used in few rallies. Evo4 Mitsubishi will be fully rebuilt before year 2001 Arctic Rally.
- 10.10.2000 -
Ipatti tested Hyundai WRC in England
Marko's aim for the next season is to drive WRC-cars in Brittish Rally Championships series and one of the options is perhaps Hyundai. Hyundai WRC car's MSD-team invited Marko to Britain to test their equipment. MSD-team is parhaps going to offer their car to next season's England open rally series. Another possibility for Marko is to take part in 5-7 MM-rally with group N car.
Marko drove in the tests around 40 kilometres. "The car is easy but hard to drive. Even this was the first time to drive WRC-car, few ideas came to my mind" Marko told.
- 9.11.2000 -
British Rally Championship crowned the brilliant season
The winner of this year's British Rally Championship series is Finn Marko Ipatti. Ipatti was already guaranteed victory on the first day, in the last championship event in Manx-rally. Brit Neil Wearder dropped out during the first stage because the head gasket of Wearden's Vauxhall car broke down. Kari Kajula worked for Ipatti as a co-driver most of the year.
Placing didn't mean a lot to Oulu sportdrivers' representative in Manx-rally, because they were leading in championship points before the last championship event. It was the first time the victory was won by a group N car. "We can't believe how big the win is to us. We beat, as a private team, the other teams which use a budget 20 times bigger than we do". As soon as the win was sure, Ipatti didn't find any realistic reason to continue the race. "We have such a shoestring budget that there was no point in risking a functional car in a long three-day race. And when you know that you have the championship in hand, motivation and attention aren't the best."
"I can't believe what has happened myself. This is a bigger thing than they perhaps realize in Finland. The British rally series has been a springboard to the world for many drivers. I hope the same will happen to me too". Previously Colin McRae, Alister McRae, Ari Vatanen, Hannu Mikkola, Pentti Airikkala and Tapio Laukkanen have won the British Rally Championship.
Fighting with low budget
The value of Ipatti's win is remarkable because he was the only one who drove with a group N car. The team didn't have the same resources as the factory team drivers, whom most of the drivers were. For example, Neil Wearden's team has a 20-million-mark budget and "our budget was around four per cent of that. Other teams had 20-30 people to help them but, depending on the race, we had only 5-7 people" Ipatti compared.
Seven years tough racing
According to Ipatti, his career as a rally driver has lasted for seven years. In 1993 he drove for the first time with a proper Mitsubishi car Galant in Finnish Junior Rally Championship series. His placing was eighth. During the season Ipatti achieved thirteen overall wins. He took overall victory in the first common series race Lokaralli (October rally).
The following year Ipatti was the fastest F2 driver in Jyväskylä's Suurajo with a rented VW Golf. Gregore de Mevius, Alistair McRae and Freddy Loix were ahead. In Finnish Rally Championship in F2 Group Ipatti was the ninth and in Finnish Ice Track series the fifth. In 1995 Ipatti was the seventh in Jyväskylä's Suurajo overall race and the second in N group. In Finnish Rally Championship his placing was seventh.
Ipatti took the Finnish Ice Track series win in 1996 in Group N and in Kemi-rally, Pohjola-rally and Oulu-rally overall wins. Late in the season Ipatti was placed third in Finnish Rally Championship in Group N. In Neste Rally Finland Ipatti was the third in Group N. He took again the overall wins in Pohjola-rally, Oulu-rally, Suopunki-rally and Loka-rally. The whole season was characterised by a reliable style of driving because there were no retirements during the season. The medal in Finnish Rally Championship was the first in North Finland. The racecar changed in summer to Mitsubishi Carisma-Gt, which was Ipatti's Top Rally Team's fifth racecar.
The year before last year the win was ensured to Ipatti in the British Rally Championship's Production Cup, even before the last championship event. Points were given from seven championship events of which four ended with Ipatti and Kari Kajula's class win. Last year was a totall disater to the team. Co-operation with Opel Corsa started but many small defects in the car caused several retirements. In Neste Rally Finland, Ipatti held the first position in F2 group after the first day, but in the second day the event ended with technical problems.
Fighting for the top places
This year Ipatti took the big challenge. He started to fight for Brittish Rally Championship win with own group N car against the works team drivers. In the first championship event, rally of Wales, Ipatti won his own class and was the third in the overall event ahead of Vauxhall's factory team drivers. In the next championship event Pirelli-rally Ipatti took his first overall win in the British Isles. He passed Hyundai driver, Finn Jarmo Kytölehto, in the last stage. Again in Scotland-rally he won his class and was the second in the entire race.
Ipatti was placed eighth in Seat Jim Clark Memorial Rally's overall event and he was the third in his own class. The catch was only a few points. There was a narrow race in asphalt because Ipatti had heavy Mitsubishi Lancer against light front wheel drive cars. Marko's worst competitor Neil Wearden had to drop out in the first stage in next asphalt race Manx-rally and the win was Marko's. Late in the summer Ipatti took superior win in Mänttä-rally with Subaru group N car. Rally Finland ended with technical problems.
Big thanks to associates and maintenance team
The maintenace team has had a big effect on the success during the years. Ipatti admits that these men's work contribution has played a very important part in this year's success. Arto Lehtonen from Oulu's Polytechnic School car laboratory has answered for driving control. From the beginning of this year Ipatti concentrated only on professional driving. "Our progression is slower than many other have made. We didn't have any godfather to finance my way" Ipatti said.
WRC-equipment in long-time plan
"For next season there is two options: if we get proper WRC equipment, I'll probably attend to the British Rally Championship. If l continue in group N I'll drive 5-6 overall events" Ipatti plans.
- 29.8.2000 -
Fighting for the title in Manx
Despite rumours to the contrary, Finnish driver Marko Ipatti WILL be at the wheel of his regular Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI for the forthcoming Manx Rally - albeit with a new colour scheme of red to announce the arrival of new sponsor RallyRent Europe, writes <br.co.uk reporter> Jamie Edwards.
Early reports had suggested that the championship leader would switch to a lightweight F2 car that would be better suited to the flowing tarmac than the heavy Group N Lancer.
"The pressure is firmly on Vauxhall and Neil Wearden - they know they have to go flat out from the start. I'm very confident we can take the title" said a relaxed Ipatti.
The 33 year old Finn has been busy behind the wheel of a Prodrive-built Subaru Impreza WRX of late in his native Finland, achieving a class win on the traditional pre-Rally Finland warm up event, the Mantta Rally, before a series of punctures and finally a broken engine resulted in an early retirement on the main event.
RallyRent Europe is a new Finnish motorsport company who were launched at the recent Neste Rally Finland. The company will provide rental of rally cars from events in Finland to a full scale attack on the World Championship. The team behind the new venture has prepared and serviced Ipatti's car for the whole of the BRC so far.
Make sure you visit www.britishrally.co.uk to find out who the 2000 British Rally Champion will be after the Manx finale!