John Thomas (Ari's co-driver and friend):
"I always wondered why Scandinavians can drive so quickly and then Gerry Phillips told me about Ari. I spoke to my local Opel dealer about him and a deal was done. A spare bed was found with my wife Susan's parents. My mother- in-law's cooking added some much needed weight to Ari's waist! We had a few runs around Margam forest and did some trips to Epynt in my Cortina. Every now and then I would say "my car, my car", but when I drove his car on the rally for him to sleep and accelerated between corners, he would cry out "my car, my car!"
The rally started in Brechfa with the dreaded firebreak. Sure enough we flew up the hill from the start, Ari was on a mission. All the hairpins we approached backwards not sideways! Then came the firebreak, a group of spectators were egging him on. We were already flat in fourth, what did they want? I'm calling "square right, care, care, care!" I'm sure I said it in English not Welsh, and Ari is telling me "second brow, second brow", which quickly changes into "so sorry, so sorry!" as we launched ourselves 100 yards down the firebreak. On stage two the boy was quickest, three a good time, but soon a serious misfire set in, which was rectified at the service with a new distributor. Typical of Ari's sense of humour, I was sorting my paperwork out in the car before eating and said: "Where will we be eating tonight?" His reply: "In best restaurant!" 45 minutes later I found him in the car park cafe eating sausage and chips, while Dealer Opel ate in a posh Italian.
That problem fixed, we lost our lights on one side for four stages until I took Tony Fall aside as they were keeping their spot lamps for Tony Pond. As daylight came Ari's fightback started. At the end of the Dyfnant stage, which is quick, he stopped and turned to me with a grin on his face: "This is like Finland!" I had turned grey, but it wasn't true I had lost my voice through terror. I couldn't speak, as I had picked up a throat virus.
What I found funny was, Dealer Opel team were laughing at Ari's old car, but when they saw his times they raised their eyebrows in surprise. Mike Broad turned from praising how quick Tony Pond had been to enquiring about our times. His jaw dropped when informed of the new boy's times. On the two Brechfa stages Ari was quickest again. At halfway we had our sights on seventh place, Ari left the startline like smoke through a key hole, down to the hairpin where he was breathtaking according to spectators. The next left and right bends are quick if dry. I croaked "Care" and to my horror Ari replied "I know" and changed up a gear. Unfortunately there was mud in the shade and we slid up the bank backwards and the offside steering arm snapped. We realised Opel could win the Team Award, so off I set on foot to Llywel for help. Once Tony Fall realised Ford had lost one of its team cars attitudes changed and we returned to the stricken car to repair the damage and the result for the Opel team was Best Manufacturer and 23rd for Ari."
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