Car: Hillman Imp Rallye (replica) 1965
Petteri Sappinen first got involved with Imps in 1983, when he bought an Imp, a Group II 875cc rally car. He did a couple of rallies in it and sold it again in 1985.
1996 - 1997 - 1998 - 1999 - 2002
Motul is an oil company which sponsors both rallies and races.
In the Finnish Historic rallies only the homologation form
no.526 (homologated prior 1966) can be used, so the old Group 2 and Group 4 imps with Webers are not allowed.
The Motul Historic Rally consisted in 1996 of five rallies, from 1997 on, it includes six.
It has four classes, Class 1 is up-to 1000cc. Only class positions are counted, overall points are not.
The rallies of the Motul Historic Rally Trophy are 'blind rallies', as are most events in Finland. (The 1000 Lakes Rally is an exception). It is not possible to do the route in advance. The material packs are handed over 1-2 hours before the start. They consist of a route book and a road map. The route book does not really describe the type of bends or jumps, it leaves a lot of surprises.
Petteri Sappinen was already participating in the 1996 Motul, albeit only in the last two rallies. Reijo Halonen did circuit races in the same car. Their Imp was built for the 1997 season.
The Motul Historic Trophy had its last event on 30 November. The Imp had a few problems with the rear brakes in stage two, but in the three remaining stages they lost only 6 seconds to the class winner. That day they finished 3rd in class (13 entries) and 23rd overall.
Competing in only two rallies out of five, they were about 20th in the cup (some 60 entries).
That year they used a 1964 Hillman Imp made ready for historic rallies and races. They were using a standard Sport engine and were looking for a 998. While the Imp was competitive and in perfect condition, they were hoping for better times with a bigger engine. An apart from that, the Rallye engine would be the one to use, as the Sport is illegal for Historics.
At the time theirs was one of the two Historic Imps in Finland.
November 1996 he bought a 998cc engine from Jukka Hankonen.
VII Huittisten rally
|Four events are counted to overall points|
The first event took place 1st February. Conditions were perfect for an Imp: hard icy surface.
There were 60 entries overall and 17 entries in the 1000cc class, including Petteri Sappinen and Henrik Tulander in their 998cc Imp. It was especially prepared for Finnish Historic Rallies and Races and in excellent condition.
Surprisingly theirs was the only Imp. There would have been four other Imps, but apparently those hadn't been made ready in time.
There were second hand tyres on their Imp, but they seemed to work well enough, although the studs were coming loose...
The first two stages they needed to get to know the car and the new engine, but they were leading class anyway (just ahead of a Fiat Abarth Corsa). But the next two stages they were really going for it, trying as hard as they could.
On returning to the service area they noticed how interested the public and the local press had become in the little Imp. Small wonder as after four stages they had a superior class lead and were also leading overall !!!
After the break two stages were left. Those were uneventful. In the last stage they were taking things a little careful to make sure they would finish. This costed them a few seconds.
Final results: 4th overall (some 40 seconds too tardy; 2 seconds later than no. 3.)
Second in their class with a margin of 1.37 seconds, came a Fiat Abarth Corsa, driven by a girl (age: 20) who ended 11th overall. The champion of 1996 in a Fiat 850 came third, at 2 minutes. Everyone, including local radio wanted to know how they could beat the powerful Volvos and Fords with a tiny Imp.
Sappinen: "Easy. We let the Imp to do the job, we were just passengers!"
3rd event, 14 June at Huittinen
There were 65 starters in Historic trophy, again a record. In the small class (up to 1000cc) there were 18 entries, including one single Imp. The route had a total of 130km and the 5 special stages were 65km.
The Imp had a modified suspension with new shocks all around. It also had minor modifications to engine.
It had been very warm weather for some weeks and Petteri was really worried about the Imp's possible cooling problems. And it turned out he was right to worry...
First stage was short, only 3.8km and quite fast. They did some brisk driving.
Theirs was the fastest time in class by 9 seconds and they were only 6 seconds slower than the overall leader. The Imp's behaviour was very good, it was very easy to drive.
The second stage was a longer one and after about 5km Petteri felt that the car was not running well. It got worse and worse plus it started to overheat. (as in the last event...) The stage ended, and they immediately got out and checked their Imp. Topping up the radiator took 3(!) liters of water. Again they were fastest in class...
As the engine felt to be OK despite overheating, they went on.
In the third stage they had similar problems, although not as bad. Then relieve came: it started to rain! Fastest time in class again, with a 20sec margin. They went on to set the fastest times for the fourth and fifth stages, too, winning the class with a 1.25 minute margin. (Second came a Ford Anglia and third a Fiat 1000 Abarth.)
Having only points from two rallies, they were about 15th overall.
They were looking forward to the next event, but something had to be done about the cooling system...
by Petteri Sappinen
Year 1997 was succesful for us and for our Rallye Imp replica; we drove the whole Motul Historic Rally serie (6 events) and the result was unexpectingly good. Here is a short story how it happened.
We started to interest about the historic rallying in year -95 when our friend asked help to build up a Rallye Imp replica for a circuit race use. We have experience to build British cars, in fact we have rallied with Avenger's and Talbot Sunbeam's over a decade. So, we first added only the safety equipments to that Imp, little suspension modifications and that was it. In summer -96 we entered to one rally and in November -97 the last one that year. In both rallies we result to third place in class (with std engine), and after that rally we decided to enter the first Trophy event -97.
|...and then it started|
We built the car during the christmas holiday, also we made the 998cc power unit and that was that: A rally Imp, made exactly to meet the homologation form 526. Only sheets that we can use were the sheets which were reviewed in year -65.
The first rally was Mäntsälä-rally in January. The route included six forest special stages, total lenght 70km. The whole route (stages and road sections) was about 150km. The rally went well, although we did not compare other's stage times until the rally was over. It was quite a shock when we realized that we fastest five stages out of six and we won the class with over one and a half minute! Also, we were leading overall before last stage! Anyway, we had maximum points from the class win and we decided to drive the whole serie thru.
Second event was two months later in the centre Finland. Although it was March and best winter month, stages were almost 100% gravel. We started as in last rally but in third stage the problems begin. The fan belt jump over due the stone in alternator wheel and the engine boiled. We did the fastest time anyway to that stage, but the next stage ended everything. We did not have the guard plate in front of the radiator (just forgot to put it!) and all those stones from front wheel did their job. Hole to radiator, coolant off and engine temp over the red line. We just finished the stage, setting the fastest time again, but the engine died at that same moment. So no points from that rally.
Third event was driven in June. Weather was hot, and because of rules it is not allowed to use the front radiator. The Imp was like a thirsty camel, in services we checked the petrol and add the water! Good luck was that thunderstorm during the event, so at least there were water all over! Rally went fine, we had fastest times in every six stage and again we won the class. Maximum points again.
One month to check everything and then the next event. It was hottest day of the summer, I think and we were really afraid. In first three stages we set the fastest times, but then the engine started to feel tired; it went worse and worse. Anyway, we won the class and now we must overhaul the engine totally. Because the Trophy has six events and four are counted, we knew that if we will win just once, the Trophy is ours. No one other can have four class wins...
Fourth event was driven again in were hot conditions. We planned to drive the first three stages as fast as we can and then just cruising to finish. That plan worked exactly and the fourth class win secured us the whole Motul Historic Rally Trophy win in year 1997.
Last event was driven in icy conditions in October. We were not allowed to use winter tyres so first three stages were extremely slippery. Anyway, at first stage we set the second fastest time overall, in fact we beat up those two famous swedish Porsche drivers, Åke Andersson and Per Gabrielsson! As said, Imp is a poor mans Porsche... We had no major problems and won the class with 1.40 min, so in that whole trophy we had five wins!
Year 1997 was good for that MkI Imp, because that friend of mine (whose car it is) drove also the Historic Races and won the championship in that under 1300cc class. Now we have built our own rally car, MkII Imp Rallye replica. This car is expected to get ready to the first event in January, and I can promise that we try harder than ever...
So, good luck to all and have a nice year 1998, and special thanks to Malcolm Anderson, who kindly helped us to keep Imp competitive!
From: Sappinen Petteri
Subject: Historic Rally Trophy
Date: Mon, 16 Mar 1998 08:10:00 +0200
Greetings from Finnish winter!
Here is a little info what has happened in 1998 Motul Historic Rally Trophy:
Third event was that re-born Snowrally in February. We started well, in fact we set fastest times in all five stages which we drove.
Unfortunately there were still four stages left, but because of broken crankshaft we had to retire that event. We were over a minute class lead, so you can imagine that we were not laughing...
Last saturday was the fourth event and now everything went as planned.
We set fastest times in six stages out of seven, so we won class with 46sec marginal. Conditions were exellent: Hard, snowy surface and sun was shining, about -10C degrees.
After four out of six events, we are in fifth position (having 36 points for 3 class wins). Pekka Päivinen won fourth time his class, so he secured the Trophy win.
You can also follow rally results from Tenab's address: http://www.mantta.fi/yritykset/tenab/
There is also link to MUT-palvelu, which is the other rally result&software company.
photo by: Pro Technic (sponsor)
Keto-ralli (14-03-1998): Sappinen and Tulander won their class.
"It was driven totally in daylight, so that's why we did not have the extra lights, but otherwise our Imp is just like in other events."
|Event||Date||Near town||Number of |
|Total length of |
The other Imper that year in the Motul was Jukka Järvinen. (Club: LammUA). He did not gather many points.
Apart from the two Hillman Imps, the competition in Class 1 consisted of:
8x Fiat 850 (coupe); 4x Ford Anglia; 3x Saab 96; Opel Kadett; Trabant P601; Saab Sport. The last one, driven by Heikki Pohjola, was the most serious competitor.
From: Sappinen Petteri MPS
Date: Thu, 5 Nov 1998 11:14:00 +0200
Subject: Motul Historic Rally Trophy 1998
Now the last Historic Rally Trophy event is driven, and here is news in brief:
The last event was driven on 24.10-98 in Suonenjoki. The number of participant was again surprisingly high, total 78 entries. The Trophy win and second place was already clear, but all other positions were still open.
The rally started with a short stage just on the side of the Suonenjoki.
Second stage was the 8km all gravel stage. After that the Swedish Porsche competitor Åke Andersson was leading, but behind him there were a couple of historic G Volvo 142's. We were leading class 1 by 11 seconds, after setting fastest times to both stages. In fact, there were three Imps on the top positions in the class!
Third stage was a traditionally Myhinpää, driven many times in the 1000 Lakes Rally. It was gigantic 28km, with a 10km narrow and muddy path at the start. We had a major heating problem after about 15km, but surprisingly we got through that stage anyway, setting fastest time in class by 36 sec! Now we had a safe margin, so we dropped the speed significantly. Unfortunately J. Järvinen had to retire after the long stage 3 (heating problem) but the third Imp (R. Nisula) was in fourth position. Overall was lead by Å. Andersson.
The last three stages were as planned: we were cruising through and after the last stage we counted a 45sec class win. Second was J. Virtanen with a Saab Sport and R. Nisula, with an Imp, was fourth in class. Overall was won by Åke Andersson, in fact this was his sixth win from six events! Second was K. Hirvonen (G), in a Volvo 142.
Other class winners were V-M Virtanen (Ford Anglia 1200), A. Suominen (Ford Cortina GT).
After the last event, the total Motul Historic Rally Trophy points were:1.Pekka Pivinen HyrUA 3 Ford Cortina GT 12 12 12 12 - - 48 Reima Tasanko HanUA 2.Petteri Sappinen RDT 1 Hillman Imp 12 12 - 12 12 (12) 48 3.Vesa-Matti Virtanen HamUA 2 Ford Anglia 1200 12 12 - 12 - 12 48 4.Jarkko Mustonen TapUA 4 Volvo 122 12 10 12 10 (9) - 44 5.Ari Suominen EurUA 3 Ford Cortina GT 10 - 10 (9) 12 12 44 6.Heikki Pohjola SPAUK 1 Saab Sport 10 10 12 10 (9) - 42 7.Pentti Pekkala PoSUA 2 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 9 10 - 9 12 (8) 40 8.Markku Lavikainen TapUA 4 Volvo 544 Sport (8) 9 10 (8) 10 10 39 9.Risto Taipale LuuUA 4 Volvo 122 9 - 7 9 12 - 37 10.Kimmo Peippo PaiUA 2 Ford Cortina 1200 10 8 9 10 - - 37Other positions you may find on the web. Address: http://www.mantta.fi/yritykset/tenab/
So, now we have the Trophy win from 1997 and second position in 1998.
Let's see what happens in year 1999.
From: Sappinen Petteri MPS
To: Gillian Hill, Franka
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 07:59:00 +0200
Hello and greetings from freezing finnish winter (-19C and 30cm snow)!
1999 Historic Rally Trophy's first event was driven in Hmeenlinna 16th January. Conditions were not so good, because it snowed about 10cm snow just before the rally. The rally included four forest special stages, lenghts varying from 15km to 20km, total amount of stages were 65km. Because of the snowstorm, organizers did not get time enough to plough all the stages, so it was quite interesting... There were 80 entries in six classes. This year the class limits were changed as follows:
Class 1: Ageperiod F (< 1966 homologated) under 850 cc
Class 2: F under 1150cc
Class 3: F under 1300cc
Class 4: F under 1600cc
Class 5: F over 1600cc
Class 6: Ageperiod G (1966-1971 homologated, no cc limit)
Our Hillman Imp Rallye is class 2 car, unfortunately our class did get only 9 entries, so even if we win we can not have maximum points. Anyway, there were two other Imps, Jukka Järvinen and Reijo Nisula with their class 2 Imps. Other classes had more than 10 entries, so they will have points from maximum.
The rally started with 15km stage, first 10km fast but driveable twisty, last 5km was narrow and snowy. No worries, we drove the fastes time in class with over half minute marginal! Jukka went off about 1.5min, so his rally was ruined. Second stage was 20km fast and extremely snowy, so it was just perfect to Imp. We set again fastest time in class, in fact with about 1min marginal... It seemed that we did not have to drive with 'maximum attack' the last two stages.
Third stage went OK, fastest time again. Fourth was again 20km, and we drove that safely and surely, second fastest time in class (-10 sec). In the finish we counted class win with 1min 50sec marginal. Jukka was 5th in class anyway, and Reijo was 6th. We did not have any troubles at all. Now I can hear you wondering, what has happened with the heating problem? Okay, we got the solution from Reijo Nisula: We assembled the std fan instead of the electric 'super hyper pro competition' electric fan! No heating troubles at all!
So, next event is legendary Snowrally, at 13th February.
I'll let you know the latest news,
Petteri and Henkka won their class in the Hankiralli (a snow rally) on 13 Feb. 1999 in a 1965 Hillman Imp
From: Sappinen Petteri
Subject: Historic Rally Trophy bulletine June -99
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 09:59:00 +0300
Greetings from unusual warm finnish summer (28C)!
Historic Rally Trophy continued last weekend in Siemens-rally, after 3 months rest. The serie positions were as expected: Swede Porsche driver Åke Andersson was leading, we were second and Sami Jaakkola (Ford Cortina) were third.
Siemens-rally included six forest stages, total 61 stage kilometers. Å Andersson did not come to this event, because some technical problems, which hit in last European Champion event. Also, the weather was very, very hard. Almost 30C was not expecting good to these old-timers...
First stage was only 3.3 km, and the fastest was I.Väätäinen with Opel Kadett Ralley. We set fastest time in class, T.Saaristo (with J.Järvinen's former Imp) was second and H.Masalin fourth, so Imps were in good positions. Second stage was 13.4 km and very good rally stage, including narrow path and wide, fast hard surface road. In our class, we set fastest time with 24sec (despite a minor off in one crossing), T.Saaristo was second in class. After this stage we had quite safe marginal, so we decided to take little bit more careful. Car was heating a lot, we had to keep the heater in full power, so we were waiting to get to the sauna to cool up...
Third stage went OK, and after four stages we were leading class with 1 min marginal. Väätäinen was leading the whole caravan.
Fifth and sixth stage went with no problems, in fact we set fastest times in each stage and we won the class with 1.16 marginal. E.Volanen (Triumph Spitfire) was second. T.Saaristo struggled to finnish with some problems, position was 8th in class. All other Imps were forced to retire because of technical (=heating) problems. In fact, the retire rate were almost 50%, mostly with heating problems!
Class winners were:
Age period E and F (> -65)
up to 850cc Vesa Masalin, Fiat 850
850 - 1150 Petteri Sappinen Hillman Imp
1150 - 1300 Risto Laine Ford Anglia Super
1300 - 1600 Pekka Vesanen Ford Lotus
1600 and more Markku Lavikainen Volvo 544 Sport
Age period G (-65 - 71)
Ilpo Väätäinen, Opel Kadett Rallye
We are now leading in serie overall points, S.Jaakkola is second and K.Hmlinen is third.
Next Historic Rally Trophy event is in 17th July in Plkne.
Date: Sat, 16 Oct 1999 19:32:03 +0300
Just a short story what happened in 1999 Historic Rally Trophy:
The sixth rally was driven in July in Palkane, center of Finland. We were leading the series after five events, so we had a lot to bet.
Again, conditions were very hot, so at least these rear engine cars would suffer heating problems (and they did...).
In our class only 7 competitors started, including two Imps: ours and Jussi/Timo Saaristo. Jussi is a son of Timo's, just starting his rally career. Timo has a long history with Imps: he started as a mechanic in the Finnish importers rally team 'Harman Hajyt' in the early 70s; drove a couple of rallies himself; and then worked as a mechanic with the late Henri Toivonen. So, there is knowledge, I can tell you... They bought this Imp off Jukka Jarvinen.
Anyway, the rally started as we planned. After three stages we were leading with over a minute marginal and the Saaristo family was second. In fourth stage we felt that the engine was getting tired, and in fact the oil pressure was disappearing. Saaristo had to retire, due a bent rear suspension.
We were leading the class with 1.20 before the last fifth stage. It was long stage, and despite the engine problem we decided to play hazard. It almost worked: the engine blew 300m before that 15km stage finish! Our sympathy was with Carlos Sainz in 1998 Network Q Rally... We analyzed the defect, and it was due to the unsuitable piston rings. The 'grinded' off and then all conrod bearings fell apart, and finally one conrod broke.
That case cost us the series top position, in fact we dropped to sixth in overall points. We were not able to enter the last rally, Nokia-rally, because I had to move to Ohio before that. That means that we have collected all points we will have, but anyway we were the best in our class in the 1999 series. In the Nokia rally class 2 was Imp's playground anyway, because the Saaristo family won and H.Masalin/E.Kurki with their Imp came second. Masalin has a very nice-looking Imp Rallye replica, which appears to be in good order.
Overall top ten in 1999 Historic Rally serie was as follows:1. Kyösti Hämäläinen 4 Ford Cortina Lotus 11 11 - 11 9 11 11 64 2. Ilpo Vtinen 6 Opel Rallye Kadett - 9 11 9 11 11 11 62 3. Pekka Vesanen 4 Ford Cortina Lotus - 9 11 9 11 9 9 58 4. Sami Jaakkola 3 Ford Consul Cortina 8 11 9 (6) 9 7 11 55 5. Risto Laine 3 Ford Anglia 1200 11 - 11 8 11 11 - 52 6. Petteri Sappinen 2 Hillman Imp 9 11 11 7 11 - - 49 7. Jari Rinne 6 Volvo 142 S 8 11 9 - - 9 9 46 8. Kimmo Hirvonen 6 Volvo 142 S 11 - 8 - 9 8 8 44 9. Kim Forsman 1 Fiat 850 Coupe 8 8 3 7 - 7 11 44 10. Heikki Masalin 12 Fiat 850/Hillman Imp 5 6 8 9 - 6 9 43 11. Åke Andersson 5 Porsche 911 11 11 11 9 - - - 42We tried to sell our nine-time-classwinning Imp, but no one was interested. It seems to be the normal way, that when you win time after time, the reason is a good car. But when you offer that car to those guys, they ignore you...
We have the Imp in perfect condition and ready for the next rally, so I will schedule my trips to Finland after I have checked the dates of 2000 Historic rallies...
Petteri is trying to sell this Imp that did so well, in favour of the treasure they have in their garage, the 1971 Imp. It was used by the Harman Hajyt rally team. It will compete in another class, because it was build during ageperiod G (1966 - 1971). (His present Imp competes in classes 2 of ageperiod F: 1962 - 1965). Petteri prefers the 1966 homologation, and is looking forward to rallying an Imp that will 'fly'...
Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2000 23:03:46 +0200
I'm still stuck here in Ohio, and not much Imps here. Last summer I was spectating local Historic Race, and there was one Ginetta, but that's it :(
Here is one photo I just got, maybe you like to add this to 'my' site. It's from Huittisten Ralli -99, result was class win.
Date: Thu, 12 Sep 2002
Haven't been in contact for a while. A lot has happened, though. We have settled back in Finland, we got a beautyful baby girl last March and I have a new project, a former importer's rally car which is going to be ready for next season historic rallying.
Have a look at this
That's the page tributed to the old importer's rally team 'Ralliryhmä Härmän Häjyt'. That was the famous Imp-team, which competed during 1968 - 72, in both group 1 and group 2. At the pages (unfortunately in Finnish) there is named cars (as they used to be at the early 70's) and what is happening to them right now. These are the actual specimen to be rebuilt, for example 'Kievarin Ville' is my project and that car was found behind a barn after 22 years of abandon (last race at 1980) :-) All these project cars and ready ones are made to meet FIA Historic ageperiod G regulations, with the proven competition history.
Kievarin Ville rally photos are from 1971.
If you can add the link to Imp sites, that would be great.
P.S I drove one historic rally last January. The guy who bought my car three years ago hurt his back just before the event, and I covered for him. Well, the car was familiar and pretty much in the same shape as it was when it was mine. The result? Class win with 1.50 min marginal and fastest times at every stage. Imp rules...
Photo gallery of Pro Technic (their sponsor)|
Ralliryhmä Härmän Häjyt, photos of the rally team ('68-'72) of the Sunbeam importer in Finland.
The Imp Site